Europe's first written constitution was signed in Poland on May 3, 1791! That’s something for which we can be very proud. So why isn’t PolishYoungtown, the group that has gained reputation for celebrating everything, participating in the NE Ohio festivities this year?
The fact is, Polish Constitution Day is celebrated with more fervor here in the states than in Poland and that includes the Polonia in metro Cleveland too. For more than a half century the Polish American Congress Ohio Division hosted NE Ohio's Constitution celebrations. In 2010, the group relocated their event from the city of Cleveland to Parma. There the city and residents warmly welcomed them with assistance and parade attendance. When word got out about the move, an ongoing, antagonistic rift between Cleveland area Polonia groups became a very public, hostile divide. A second Saturday set of events were planned and a parade marched through the Slavic Village area. Now it seems there is no turning back. This year both groups are hosting a weekend of activities. Additionally, on Sunday, May 1st, as part of the parade festivities, the Mayor of Parma will create a “Polish Village” modeled after Ukrainian Village nearby. Totally cool marketing idea, but is considered a slap in the face to supporters working to preserve, empower, and advance Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. PolishYoungstown is part of the Polish American Congress and a member of the Polish Cultural Center in Slavic Village. We enthusiastically work to support both groups and their events year round. Last year we even hosted a Polish Happy Hour on Friday night and sponsored a candidate for the Miss Polonia Pageant on Saturday (who won! Yeah Lauren Lotze! ), and created a float for Sunday’s Grand Parade! (Click on the pics to see more photos).
Not this year. The “two parade concept” was supposed to be a one-time thing. It is inherent in PolishYoungstown’s mission statement to work toward cooperation and collaboration with Poles and other groups. So until the groups can work together, we will toast the bravery and forethought of our ancestors closer to home.