Buffalo will be awash in pussy willows and Polish pride on Monday, when revelers celebrate what is touted as the biggest Dyngus Day celebration in the United States.
According to Polish custom, the start of the post-Easter season is marked with water – often from squirt guns, in modern times – and pussy willows. In Poland, boys would try to catch the attention of select girls by throwing water and hitting their legs with pussy willows.
On Monday, festivities will begin with the eighth annual Dyngus Day Parade, with more than 100 entries expected to make their way through the streets of the historic Polonia Section of the city’s East Side.
The procession will begin at 5 p.m. after an initial blessing in front of Corpus Christi Catholic Church at Clark and Kent streets, near the Broadway Market.
Portions of Paderewski Drive, Clark Street, Sears Street and Playter Street will be closed to traffic beginning at noon. Check-in for parade participants will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Paderewski and Memorial drives. The parade will last between 60 and 90 minutes and is expected to attract thousands of spectators. Weather is forecast to be seasonable, with a slight chance of showers.
Dyngus Day Parade organizers say prime viewing areas will be in the vicinity of the Broadway Market, 999 Broadway; St. Stanislaus Social Center, 389 Peckham St.; and the Pussy Willow Party Tent on Memorial Drive.
Parade participants will compete for awards, including the Dyngus Day Capital of the World Award, Best Use of Red and White, Best Family Float or Group, Best Use of Pussy Willows, Best Musical Performance and the Russ Pawlak “Unsung Hero” Award.
Parade judges include Tod Kniazuk, executive director of Arts Services Initiative of WNY; and Samantha Maziarz-Christmann and Mary Kunz Goldman of The Buffalo News. Awards will be announced at a post-parade party May 9 in St. Stanislaus Social Center.
Dyngus Day is a traditional Polish springtime celebration at the end of Lent. Buffalo’s Dyngus Day celebration is considered the largest in the United States.
A $10 Dyngus Day Pussy Willow Pass provides for $2 admission to numerous holiday venues and free use of the Sobieski Tours-Ridge Road Express shuttle buses to 25 participating parties. Pussy Willow Passes are available at the Broadway Market and all Wegmans supermarkets.