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A Ukrainian Polka Band, Polish Picnic, and Irish Dancing - Must Be Saturday in Cleveland

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On Saturday, July 21, our first stop was at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Festival on State Road in Parma where we waved at Mr. Walt Mahovlich and other members of the Harmonia Band, which was performing on stage, and shook hands with Reverend Michael Hontaruk, one of the church's pastors.

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We also met a charming guy named Ted who was hoping to locate a woman he used to accompany to polka dances and had come to admire. Ted had heard through the grapevine that she had just broken up with her boyfriend so he wanted to let her know he was available too. We certainly extended our best wishes to Ted and urged him to continue his search.

Next, we drove over to St. Sava's on Wallings Road in Broadview Heights in order to spend some time at the Polish American Cultural Center picnic. While we were there we chatted with Mr. Eugene Bak and Ms. Connie Adams about plans to create a Polish Heritage Garden right next to the Cultural Center in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland. 

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Even though we were scheduled to attend a dinner that evening, we were a bit hungry by that time because we had skipped lunch, so we treated ourselves to a couple of pierogies and a potato pancake, but the latter was cooked so perfectly (i.e., not greasy and with just the right amount of crispness) that we couldn't resist ordering a second one.

We then headed over to the American-Croatian Lodge in Eastlake for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Murphy Irish Arts Center, founded in 1978 by our very good friend Ms. Sheila Murphy Crawford, who also served as the president of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation and has been very active in various facets of the Northeast Ohio community.

As its website describes it, "The Murphy Irish Arts Center is dedicated to preserving Irish culture and the art of Irish dance and to sharing their heritage with audiences everywhere. The Murphy Irish Dancers march and dance down Euclid Avenue every year in the St. Patrick's Day Parade and have performed at countless folk festivals, nursing homes, and organizational events." 

Recent accomplishments include winning the 2018 North American championship for Irish dancing that was recently held in Orlando, Florida. Not to mention the fact that in 2015, the troupe traveled to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where it placed first and won the world championship.

A person who plays a big role in the success of the Arts Center is Mr. Bob Crawford, Sheila's husband, who is technically listed as its Technical Director & Financial Manager but, as we understand it, does a little of everything. During her presentation, in which Ms. Murphy Crawford discussed her family's passion for Irish dancing and the evolution of the Arts Center, she lovingly credited her husband as being a hidden treasure.

Ms. Murphy Crawford was very grateful that Ms. Wong sent a representative to this affair (us), and during the time set aside for acknowledgements she thanked Ms. Wong along with other notables who were present, such as Mr. Gerry and Ms. Nellie Quinn, Ms. Debbie Hanson of clevelandpeople.com and Dr. Wael Khoury, who succeeded her as president of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation.

Throughout the evening, many photos and mementos were on display as well as various costumes that had been worn over the years and, of course, we were treated to some stunning dances performed by both current students and past alumni.

Above all, Ms. Murphy Crawford sought to convey that acquiring the skills of Irish dancing can be very beneficial to individuals because it teaches them to work as a team and to set goals. Thus, friendships are formed and a lot of sharing takes place.

It is particularly rewarding when the dancers visit and perform at perhaps 30 nursing homes/retirement centers every March.

"We share our talents," said Ms. Crawford, "with those who appreciate them."

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC

 

 

Aimee Jannsohn