on March 27, 2013 - 12:48 AM
, updated March 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM
Dyngus Day has been described as one of the most unique ethnic festivals. In Western New York, it’s among the most famous Polish-American holidays.
Dozens of events will be held Monday, including a parade in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood. Meanwhile, numerous venues will sponsor advance activities Saturday and Sunday.
Eddy Dobosiewicz is co-founder of Dyngus Day Buffalo and president of Dyngus Day LLC. He sat down with The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer to preview activities and discuss the flap that occurred last year when Anderson Cooper made fun of Dyngus Day on his CNN show. Here is a summary of the interview, which is part of the weekly “In Focus” series.
Meyer: Talk about the history and heritage of this holiday that seems to ignite the imaginations of a lot of people.
Dobosiewicz: It’s really kind of an obscure thing. It’s not even celebrated in Poland in any major way. It became popular here in Buffalo because in 1961, the Chopin Singing Society used Dyngus Day as an excuse for a fundraising event. And it just turned into a legendary party. Number one, they knew how to throw a good party. Number two, there’s these quirky little rituals that are associated with it. The chasing around of men and women in a flirtatious manner with pussy willow branches to signify the first bud of spring. The sprinkling of water to signify the rebirth of the growing season and Jesus’ resurrection. It’s a post-Lenten thing. It’s kind of like a reverse Fat Tuesday. ... It happens the day after Lent as opposed to the day before Lent. We do this in other cities, too. Cleveland is growing, Pittsburgh is growing, Albany is growing.
Meyer: There are going to be over two dozen [local] venues. We’re not just talking about the big bash at the Central Terminal.
Dobosiewicz: Here in Western New York, I believe there are 26 venues that are taking part this year. From Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster, Elma, into obviously the historic Polonia District, where we have lots of venues. And Black Rock has expanded now. I think there’s five or six venues in Black Rock with a dedicated shuttle route. All these venues are connected by an extensive shuttle system. So you could literally park your car in Depew, come into the Polonia District, go to a bunch of venues, go to Black Rock [and] go to a bunch of venues, come back and then wind up back in Depew without having to find a million parking spots. In the event that someone is not capable of operating a motor vehicle safely, we even have prepaid cab vouchers that every venue will have ...
Meyer: One of the most anticipated events that many people were hoping would be happening would have been the crowning of Anderson Cooper as the first-ever Pussy Willow Prince. For background: Cooper had what he even described as sort of a teenage-girl giggling fit [on CNN] about Dyngus Day. He dissed Dyngus Day and put it on his “Ridiculist.” You invited him here. It sounded pretty hopeful, and then a scheduling conflict occurred.
Dobosiewicz: Well, we had numerous conversations since last year. It was on his calendar up until ... about a month and a half ago, when a scheduling conflict occurred with his duties at “60 Minutes.”
Meyer: A legitimate one, you think?
Dobosiewicz: Legitimate. We talked at least four times since then. ... When he announced that he wouldn’t come, we set up a website called PARTYPOOPERCOOPER.COM that over 60,000 people went to. It resonated and hit a nerve with people all over the nation. On [a Bravo Television] show, he lamented the fact that he couldn’t come here. But we’ve extended the invitation. ... It’s an open invitation. If he wants to be the Pussy Willow Prince next year, we’ll open our arms and embrace him wholeheartedly.