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Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) Traditional Holiday Dinner

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On Tuesday, December 13th, we attended the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) Traditional Holiday Dinner that was held at the American Croatian Lodge on Lakeshore Blvd. in Eastlake.

Before we walked into dining room, we stopped by the Croatian Heritage Museum (in the same building) and complimented Mr. Jerko Molinar on the beautiful Nativity scene that he had constructed largely from burlap, paper mache, and many seasonal dolls direct from Europe. Mr. Molinar recalled how he used to create such structures with his father in Croatia in the late 1930's-early 1940's. They would make one each holiday season and donate them to various churches in nearby small villages. Mr. Molinar, an accomplished artist who immigrated to the United States in 1956, has a very interesting story and we plan to interview him soon for "I am Foreign Born."

That evening it was also called to our attention that the statue of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac that stands in the hallway between the museum and the dining area was created by Mr. Joseph Turkaly, the father of Mr. Tom Turkaly, who is on the board of the CCGF and we see all of the time at international events. 

In spite of the cold weather, a large number of people turned out for this holiday celebration so most of the Gardens were represented by at least one person. We plan to see most of them again at the ICC-Win 7th Annual International Holiday Party on Wednesday evening. 

At dinner, we shared a table with Mr. Aavo and Ms. Erika Puussaar; Mr. Toomas and Ms. Paula Tubalkian all from the Estonian Garden: and Mr. Ken Quiggle from the Finnish Garden who is also very involved in the Finnish Museum in Fairport Harbor. We learned that Mr. Tubalkian's mother was one of the people who founded the Estonian Garden. Another person whose family had been involved with the CCGF for a number of years was Ms. Beatrice Colage whose father, Mr. Gino Colage, carefully tended the Italian Garden for 25 years.

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After dinner Ms. Sheila Crawford, President of CCGF, reviewed all of the Gardens' activities for 2016 which, as we have mentioned before, was its centennial. Among the happenings that we, ourselves, attended were the Centennial gala; the celebration in the British/Shakespeare Garden which is the oldest of the Gardens; the Children's Fair that was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the youngsters; One World Day which was attended by some 20,000 people and thus a tremendous success; a concert in the Bohemian National Hall; a celebration of Mother Teresa's sainthood in the Albanian Garden; and the burial of a Time Capsule just a few weeks ago. 

Ms. Crawford also noted that two Gardens were dedicated which were the African American Garden and the Turkish Garden and that Cleveland's Pakistani community has recently began the process for obtaining their own Garden. She said that those representing the Pakistani community were "a vibrant group and ready to work."

Ms. Crawford praised all of the people who volunteered their time on behalf of the CCGF and said that "without all of us working together it just doesn't take place."

Next, Ms. Crawford said that each year an award is bestowed upon someone who has performed "above and beyond the call of duty" by way of service to the CCGF and this year the honoree was our good friend, Dr. Richard Crepage. She mentioned that Dr. Crepage had been an active member of CCGF for only five years but had really distinguished himself in that time period and done a lot to help the Gardens realize their potential. Among his fine contributions were his service as treasurer (a tough, thankless, but totally necessary job); his co-chairmanship of two One World Days; and acting as liaison to the Holden Parks Trust. She then announced that Dr. Crepage would not be as active in the future because he will be working with the American Cancer Society so she and the other board members wanted to be sure that his achievements be recognized. We then participated in the standing ovation that Dr. Crepage received.

Before the program ended, we all had a good time singing "Happy Birthday" to Mr. Toomas Tubalkian and Mr. Tom Turkaly as well as to Ms. Crawford even though, as she attested, about six hours remained until her birthday would actually take place.

Earlier in the evening we talked with Ms. Ingrid Bublys who told us that Ms. Ruta Degutis and herself had organized the installation of a Christmas tree decorated in the traditional Lithuanian fashion complete with ornaments made from straw in the Hopkins Conference Room at Cleveland-Hopkins Airport. We noticed that Mr. Dan Hanson wrote a piece about it on Clevelandpeople.com which heightened our desire to see it. Accordingly, we plan to fly to Los Angeles next week to see relatives over the holidays so we will make sure that we arrive at the airport early enough so we that have a chance to give it a good view and take some photos to share with those who read our blog.   

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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