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Out & About in Cleveland

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Medina International Festival; Third Annual St. Maron Parish Festival; Dedication Ceremony in The Serbian Cultural Garden; Fundraiser for Ohio State Senator Kenny Yuko

On Saturday, August 19th, we took in three festivals starting with the "Medina International Festival" which took place in that city's public square. Throughout the day there were performances by entertainers representing such countries as Ireland and Russia and such regions as the South Pacific, South America and the Middle East and there were at least 100 venders mostly from local business establishments, non-profits, and community groups.

Along these lines, we visited with Ms. Tracy Nelson from "Youth For Understanding" the renowned intercultural exchange program which has made it possible for international high school students to study abroad in perhaps 60 different countries including the U.S. on J-1 visas. Likewise, we visited with Mr. Kevin Wermer from the "Rotary Club of Medina" who told us that his organization was currently hosting an exchange student from Thailand and that it had hosted perhaps one hundred international students over a twenty year period; sometimes three or four a year.

We also got to meet Ms. Nahida Halaby Gordon, the editor of a book entitled "Palestine Is Our Home; Voices of Loss, Courage, and Steadfastness" from whom we obtained a copy for Ms. Wong. In turn, we gave Ms. Halaby Gordon a copy of Ms. Wong's book, "The Immigrant's Way."

As we were leaving, we spoke to Ms. Pam Miller, co-chair of the "Medina Diversity Project" which is a grassroots organization promoting diversity in the Medina area about the possibility of "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" tabling at next year's festival. Ms. Miller thought that our being there would help promote awareness so we plan to place it on our list of priorities for 2018.

Next, we traveled to St. Maron Parish on Brookside Road in Independence to have lunch at its third annual festival. We wanted to go there because our good friend and colleague, Mr. George Koussa was heavily involved the festival and had worked there for most of the weekend. To be sure, Mr. Koussa told us we would be welcomed there and thus we had an excellent lunch composed of baba ganoush and mjaddara, a dish composed of lentils, rice, and onions. As we ate, we visited with Mr. Bob Grimshaw who loves to visit international festival so we told him about clevelandpeople. com and "One World Day" which is fast approaching.

We then enjoyed ourselves for a while as we surveyed the church grounds and watched children happlily engage in various contests but, before we left, we said hello to the church pastors, Father Peter Karam and Father Alex Harb who we had encountered many times at the St. Elias Church festival. As it turned out, we learned that Father Harb will be leaving St. Maron Church very shortly to accept an assignment in Dayton so we wished him the best.

 

From there we moved on to St. Emeric Roman Catholic Church on West 22nd Street in Cleveland which was celebrating "St. Stephen's Day" on Saturday and Sunday.

As we read in the notes we were given, "August 20 is one of the oldest Hungarian holidays. It is the feast of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary, it is the feast of the founding of a Christian Hungarian state, and it is the continued remembrance of the thousand year old Hungarian state. The August 20 date was set by King St. Laszlo (Ladislaus) because on this day, in 1083, Pope Gregory VII canonized Istvan I. (Stephen I.) as saint, as well as his son Imre (Emeric) and Bishop Gellert (Girard) the very same year." 

 

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We arrived at 3pm just in time for opening ceremonies which began with a colorful procession of flags. The proceedings, themselves, were conducted in both Hungarian and English and featured several prominent speakers including Cleveland City Councilperson Kerry McCormack who was there with a resolution from the Cleveland City Council honoring the celebration.

Others who addressed us were Mr. Laszlo Bojtos, Honorary Hungarian Consul in Cleveland; Reverend Eva Tamasi from the Hungarian Reformed Church West Side; Ms. Zsuzsanna Palmai, Hungarian Consul from Chicago who spoke of her mission to assist and engage the Hungarian community; and Reverend Peter Toth of the Hungarian Reformed Church of Lorain who spoke of the significance of the breaking of the bread which concluded the ceremonies.

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Speaking on behalf of everyone, Father Andras Mezei reminded us that many Hungarians were forced to flee their homeland during the Soviet occupation and that there were now five million living throughout the world and maybe one and a half million living in the United States where they have made an excellent contribution to our society through their talents and their willingness to work hard. Father Mezei went on to say that he saw his role as to assist in keeping the Hungarian culture and heritage alive here. Thus, he didn't consider this day being so much about St. Emeric's as it was about the sharing of Cleveland's rich Hungarian heritage.

After Father Mezei completed his presentation, Mr. Mike Horvath, the master of ceremonies, playfully kidded that there was no mass at the church on Saturday because of the festival, but he knew that Father Mezei would "get a sermon in there" somehow.

 

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The next day was Sunday, August 20th, and there were several events taking place but the one that we wanted to attend the most was a dedication ceremony in the Serbian Cultural Garden of a new bust of the great Serbian scientist, Dr. Milutin Milankovic (1879-1958) a mathematician who specialized in astronomy and geophysics and developed what is now considered to be one of most definitive theories on climate change as well as the most precise Milankovic calendar which, according to "Wikipedia" encyclopedia, "effectively discontinued the 340 years of divergence between the naming of dates sanctioned by those Eastern Orthodox churches adopting it and the Gregorian calendar that has come to predominate worldwide."

We arrived early and were greeted by Mr. Alex Machaskee and his wife, Carol, and got to visit with several members of the "Kosovo Men's Choir" including its leader, Dr. Stevan Zivic and Mr. Sam Welo, the father of Mayor Georgine Welo of South Euclid, with whom we share a love of old movies.

The ceremonies begin shortly after the arrival of Bishop Irinej Dobrijevic of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America who blessed the bust of Dr. Milankovic and talked briefly about how much the scientist's faith played a part in the formation of his great scholarly works. He also thanked Mr. Machaskee for all he has done to revive the Serbian Garden which is now so beautiful. In turn, Mr. Machaskee thanked those present for their financial support of the Serbian Garden over the past few years by their participation in the annual golf outing. Although she was not present, we know that Ms. Margaret W. Wong and her family seldom miss a golf outing dinner.

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As we stated earlier, the Serbian Garden is truly stunning with, in addition to the bust of Dr. Milankovic the newest addition, busts of quite a few famous Serbian people on prominent display including those of Nikola Tesla (inventor), Dr. Mileva Maric (scientist and mathematician), King Peter I (liberator of Serbian people), Dr. Mihajlo Pupin (scientist), Peter Petrovic Njegos (poet), Stevan Mokranjac (composer), and Vuk Karadzic (author).

The ceremony ended with the "Kosovo Men's Choir" performing several numbers after which we all enjoyed some food and drinks provided by Mr. Mike Farone, who once worked with Mr. Machaskee at the "Plain Dealer" and is now his good friend.

 

Our last event for the weekend was a fundraiser for Ohio State Senator Kenny Yuko (Democrat-District 25) held at "Tizzano's Party Center" on 260th Street in Euclid.

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Senator Yuko is a good friend of ours and we are pleased to report that his cancer treatments have been successful. Unfortunately, however, his beloved wife, Pam, will have to start her own treatments this week but, as we observed, Senator Yuko and his family stand together as a tightly woven unit and are very optimistic as to the outcome.

This optimism was quite evident in the party center throughout the night as at least a hundred people attended to support the Senator as an elected official and community leader and offer their best wishes to him, Pam, and their family. Senator Yuko, himself, talked for a few minutes about some ideas that he has regarding the raising of necessary monies to address the pressing issues of public education, mental health and the opioid crisis, and his daughter, Angela, acknowledged the various local elected officials and union officials who were present like Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Lake County Commissioner Dan Troy, Mr. Mike McIntyre of Plumbers Local 55 and Mr. Tim Fulgham of CWA 4346.

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We, ourselves, had a good time sharing a table with former Ohio State Rep. Leroy Peterson who is a good friend of some of our good friends like former U.S. Congressperson Dennis J. Kucinich and current South Euclid Councilperson-at-Large Marty Gelfand who is now a candidate for South Euclid Municipal Court judge. Another person that we encountered there who we hadn't see for a long time was Ms. Goldie Malone of Lodge 859 of the Croatian Fraternal Union of America who we collaborated with on several matters when we worked for Congressman Kucinich.

We were pleased when Euclid City Councilperson Laura Gorshe expressed an interest in immigration matters so we talked to her for a few minutes about what is going on nationally and locally on this subject.

For us, though, the most poignant moment of the night was when Ms. Angela Yuko talked about her dad's bout with cancer. "He conquered it," said Ms. Yuko, "just as he conquers everything."

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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