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99th anniversary of Latvia's Independence; 8th annual Wine, Beer and More festival

On Saturday, November 18th, our first event was the celebration of the 99th anniversary of Latvia's independence which was held in the hall of the "United Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church" on Andrews Avenue in Lakewood.

Before the ceremonies started, we introduced ourselves to Ms. Zenta Apine who organized the affair. She begin the proceedings by saying that times in the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were often troubled during those 99 years due to annexation by the Soviet Union in the early 1940's until when independence was finally restored in 1990. Now all three countries can look forward to the "fulfillment of dreams."

Most of what was said after that was said in Latvian as were the songs performed by "Dzirksts" a chamber choir but we appreciated the beautiful melodies.

Afterwards we learned that what was said earlier was that Latvia and its people could be likened to a beautiful oak tree. The roots represented the older generation, the tree trunk and branches were those of the middle aged, and the acorns represented the children who will determine Latvia's future.

From there we went to the "Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church" on West 7th Street in Tremont for its 8th annual "Wine, Beer and More" festival.

Even though we do not drink wine or beer, we very much enjoyed the excellent blueberry and cranberry sparkling ciders that were served to us by a man named Myron who we had encountered previously this year at the Pokrova festival and had given a copy of Ms. Margaret Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way". Myron's wife, Marusia was the main organizer of this evening's festival and we understand that it was completely booked and that there was an impressive waiting list just as there has been for the last several years.

In addition to the sparkling cider, we nibbled on the many cheeses, crackers, and dips that proved to be quite popular and we shared a table with Father Andrew who immigrated to the United States some 30 years prior and a very sweet couple named Michael and Terry who told us of several upcoming events that would be taking place in the upcoming week around Tremont.

Throughout our time there we were entertained by Ms. Maria Iwankie who played the piano beautifully.  
We would have liked to have remained at the Ukrainian Church because it was a terrific place to be on a cold and rainy night but we left it, nevertheless, in an attempt to catch the last part of a Thanksgiving dinner put on by the Turkish-American Cultural Center in Lakewood for the local community.

We arrived just as people were leaving, however. But we learned from our friends Mr. Murat Gurer and Mr. Ken Kabb that the event, composed of traditional American Thanksgiving fare as well as Middle Eastern food, was a big success not in the least because Mr. Joseph Meissner delivered a well-researched speech on how Thanksgiving is celebrated all around the world in different forms.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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