It was another glorious ethnic party in Buffalo Monday, as Dyngus Day and its parade rolled through historic Polonia. The East Side party continued well into the night, with lots of Polish beer, red and white, pussy willows and water pistols.
Seemingly all day and all night, the polka music roared as everyone was Polish for Dyngus Day.
Lisa Florczak said she is fourth- or fifth-generation American, as her family came here from Eastern Europe. She proves it by teaching dance at the Polish Cadet Hall in Black Rock and celebrating customs.
"Today is the day that the boys go after the girls," Florczak said, "so I've gotten soaked a little bit today. The whole thing in the experience is really a springtime courtship ritual. So the boys go after the girls if they're interested in dating them, sprinkle them with water, tap them with the pussy willows."
Mary Polanski, 93, also celebrated, remembering her youth when Broadway-Fillmore was a Polish neighborhood and the parade was just a neighborhood custom.
"It wasn't this big," said Polanski. "It was more confined to this one place, and when I was little, it was just in the neighborhood."
Today the parade includes marchers, floats, waving Polish flags and those water guns.
"We are behind the bus station because they are shooting water guns today," said Rosemary. "It's too cold to be shot by water today, don't you think?"
Chris Cooley is secretary for Corpus Christi Church, the heart of Dyngus Day. Cooley said money raised in the crowded social hall helps keep the church going.
"It's one of our major fundraisers for Corpus Christi," Cooley said. "We spend all year preparing for this Dyngus Day and Dozynki in the fall, which is our fall festival."
Cooley said the success of volunteers and donors in reviving the church is why Holy Week services drew 2,000 people to the renovated church.
Traditionally, the parade begins at the church's front door, while another major section out back readies to head out on the parade route.