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Annual Christmas Reception at the Ukrainian Museum; Annual holiday/Christmas party of Cleveland American Middle East Organization

On Friday evening, December 9th, we stopped off for a little while at the annual Christmas Reception at the Ukrainian Museum and Archives in Tremont.

 We have been attending this event quite frequently since 2009 because we find the Museum, a converted mansion, to be very warm and homey particularly when it is snowing outside as it was (lightly) that evening.

 We had some great appetizers and said hello to Mr. Andrew Fedynsky, Director Emeritus and Resident Scholar, and Ms. Midge Szmagala who we also see frequently at American Nationalities Movement affairs.

 We had already viewed the Museum's current exhibit which concerned the history of the Ukrainian Cultural Garden when we were at there for a "Tea" put on by the Ukrainian National Women's League of America several weeks ago but we paused to have a good conversation with Mr. Wasyl Liscynesky, a sweet man who talked to us about how he immigrated from the Ukraine to Germany in 1944 and then from Germany to the United States in 1950. During the Korean War he served in U.S. Army Intelligence where he excelled in computer program analysis.

 As we were writing this blog, we ran his name on the internet and came across a piece that was written about him on We discovered that he had a long record of beautiful service to Cleveland and its Ukrainian community as well as being the founder of a successful company.

 What's more, Mr. Liscynesky was Grand Marshall at the Ukrainian Independence Day Parade in August, 2016!

 One wouldn't expect a person who had such a impressive resume to be humble and unpretentious. But Mr. Liscynesky definitely possessed those qualities and we hope we get to see him again soon.

 On Saturday, December 10th, we had driven to Lake County via Lakeshore Avenue to pickup a friend who wanted to attend the day's events with us but the weather proved to be so treacherous and the ride to North Perry so harrowing on the ice (we almost skidded several time) we didn't feel safe doing any more traveling during the snow storm that took place there on Friday, Saturday, and most of Saturday night.

 We thus apologize to the people involved with the children's Christmas programat the Hungarian Museum in the Galleria; the Indian Christian Association service and potluck dinner at the Church of the Savior in Cleveland Heights; and the opening reception of the "The Day After" exhibit featuring the works of noted Polish artist Dr. Leslaw Tetla at the Magalen Art Gallery in Slavic Village.

 We would have like to have attended all of the above and am sure we would have enjoyed and learned a good deal from all three programs but, unfortunately, things just didn't pan out.

 On Sunday, December 11th, weather conditions in Lake County still appeared ominous but (Whew!!!) Highway 2 was clear and we managed to make it back to Cleveland within 45 minutes.

 We would have been very sad if we hadn't have been able to attend the annual holiday/Christmas party of Cleveland American Middle East Organization aka C.A.M.E.O. which took place on Sunday night at Kan Zaman restaurant on West 25th Street in Cleveland.

Despite the fact that the weather was still quite cold and a bit icy, the turnout was very good and we always enjoy the time we spend with our fellow C.A.M.E.O. members. Several elected officials also braved the cold such as Cleveland Municipal Court Judges Marilyn B. Cassidy and Ralph R. Perk, Jr. (retired) and Seven Hills' Mayor Richard Dell'Aquila who brought with him Councilman Tony Biasiotta. It was Councilman Biasiotta's first C.A.M.E.O. event and he plans to come back for upcoming ones in 2017. 

 We talked about being grounded in North Perry with Mr. Mahmoud Aboumerhi who was quite familiar with our situation since he is the Deputy Registrar of the DMV in Mentor.

 During dinner, we shared a table with Ms. Cindy David of "Lions of the Desert Productions" who introduced us to her friend, Ms. Jamila Alhaib who has helped over 100artists immigrate to the United States from the Middle East and Africa.

To be sure, it was the end of the year and it was time to pay out dues and sign up with Ms. Dolly Caril, the niece of First Vice President Tony Abulkarim and an accomplished bilingual teacher on her own,  to be C.A.M.E.O. members for another year. We didn't really have to think about it; needless to say we put our coat, walked to our car, got our check book from our satchel, and paid up for another year.

 Between driving in from Lake County and attending the C.A.M.E.O. party, we were fortunate enough to have the time to see and watch the "Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemble" perform at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Cathedral on State Road in Parma.

 Before the program begin, we got to meet Ms. Natalia Basladynsky-Mahlay, the Ensemble's Artistic Director and Conductor, as well as her husband, Mr. Oleh Mahlay, who performs the same tasks for the famed "Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus" that has performed all over the world.

 We sat in front of Ms. Luba Lys, who we had met at the "Tea" at the Ukrainian Museum in November, whose daughter, Katherine, is part of the choir. Ms. Lys, along with Ms. Mary Hanycz who we had spoken with earlier, talked to us about the choir's history. Basically, it is composed of mostly women throughout the Cleveland area, including several from Pennsylvania and one from Michigan, joined together by their love of the Ukrainian culture that they celebrate through their music. We learned that they sing Ukrainian songs (actually in Ukrainian) of all genres and have a lot of fun.

 On this day they all looked beautiful as they serenaded us with Ukrainian Christmas Carols; each one introduced in English by Ms. Khrystyna Skabyk, the Master of Ceremonies. 

 Afterwards, Bishop Bohdan J. Danylo closed the program by saying that the "angelic voices" of the Ensemble reflect the feeling of Christmas and because of them everyone present at this gathering will be drawn closer to God in the next several weeks as we celebrate the holidays.



Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

Out & About, NewsKwasi Bediako