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2nd annual Calle 33 Festival; Turkish Cultural Garden Clean-Up; Annual Picnic of The Lithuanian Club

We spent most of the August 19th-21st weekend at the 2nd annual Calle 33 Festival located near the corner of Clark Avenue and West 33rd Street in the area surrounding and including Club San Lorenzo which was at one time the IMG_3868 gathering place for people who immigrated to the United States from Italy and is now, as of 2009, a very popular Puerto Rican social club.

Nevertheless, those who gathered at Club San Lorenzo for this celebration came from (or their families came from) a broad range of Latin American countries.  We heard about the Calle 33 Festival through our dear friend Ms. Lucy Torres, Hispanic Liaison to Cleveland City Hall, who arranged for us to set up a table and hang our large banner on one of the fences.

We were located next to Mr. Eddie Velez who, like Ms. Margaret W. Wong, is actively involved with "Friends of IMG_3883Lincoln West". Mr. Velez and his friends were selling food at the Festival all weekend so we purchased several bowls of yellow rice and beans from him.

Ms. Torres was there when we arrived on Friday night so she introduced us to Ms. Maria Martinez, Director of the Festival, as well as Mr. Jose Acevedo and Ms. Maria Cruz, respectively the President and Vice President of Club San Lorenzo.

Stopping by our table with us was a man named G-MO from the Cleveland Wrestling Alliance who was organizing IMG_3873some matches that took place only 20 yards from our table. We had never seen a wrestling match before so G-MO gave us a free pass for Sunday afternoon. As things turned out, we watched two matches wherein Mr. Joe Kool, G-MO's friend, acted as the referee. We found these contests to be entertaining and were pleased when they ended with no one getting hurt.

Another person who stopped to talk to us was Mr. Chad Fields, a State Farm agent who, like us, was tabling there. Mr. Fields told us that he recalled that Ms. Margaret W. Wong had an office at the Standard Building when he too was there working there for a bank in the early 1990's. He remembered that every year Ms. Wong used to give all of her friends a beautiful gold coin around holiday time.

Besides the Calle 33 Festival, we had time to participate in a couple of additional activities over the weekend.

Earlier in the week we had received an email from Ms. Birkan Ozgur, Secretary of the Turkish American Society of Northeast Ohio (TASNO), asking for assistance cleaning the site of the planned Turkish Cultural Garden before One World Day on August 28th.IMG_3834

Thus, on Saturday morning we spent an hour helping to rake up the leaves and twigs at the garden site on MLK Blvd. Besides us and Ms. Ozgur, the workers included Aydin Aykanat, Asli Sahin, Zeynep Ergungor, Mehmet Gencer and Ayla Gencer. Additionally, there was a young woman vacationing from Turkey named Fatma Bedeloglu who pitched in because she wanted to help her community and believed in the message and purpose of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The maintenance lasted from 10am to 5pm so even more TASNO members were scheduled to take part throughout the day.

IMG_3836We talked to Ms. Ayla Gencer about the progress of the Turkish Garden and she told us that the necessary approvals have been obtained and a groundbreaking for Phase 1 should occur in September, 2016; or most assuredly before the first snow fall. We know that the Turkish community of Cleveland has worked long and hard on this project so the groundbreaking will mean a lot to a lot of people.

As we were leaving, we noticed that Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan and Mr. Joseph Meissner were at the site of the Vietnamese Garden cleaning up there too. It should be a beautiful One World Day next week and we are looking forward to tabling there on behalf of Margaret W. Wong and Associates.

Later in the day on Saturday, we went to the Italian American Club on Euclid Avenue in Wickliffe for the annual picnic of the Lithuanian Club. We really wanted to go to this because we had been to the Lithuanian American Citizens ClubIMG_3848 on East 185th Street earlier in the year for a Food Passport Adventure outing. Thus, when we got to the picnic welooked for, found, and said hello to Ms. Ruta Degutas and Mr. Linas Johansonas who were our hosts at the earlier occurrence. We also sought out Mr. Dainius Zalensas, the baker of delicious tree cakes who we also met at the Club. We found IMG_3852him at a special table for bakery goods where we bought some fresh "Jums" amber rye bread that had just arrived from Lithuania. We got to meet Mr. Zalensas' lovely wife, Ms. Ona Puckoriute who was a noted performer and puppeteer back in Lithuania and still practices her art in the United States on occasion. Mr. Zalensas and Ms. Puckoriute told us that they knew each other back in their native country before they immigrated to the United States at different times; Mr. Zalensas in 1989 and Ms. Puckoriute in 1999. After she arrived, he looked her up and they became happily married in 2000!

IMG_3861Other people that we got to meet while we were there were Mr. Steve Newman and Ms. Linda Uhas who conduct a morning Lithuanian radio program on that can be heard on both AM and FM stations.

We then kicked back and enjoyed a nicely crisp potato pancake and some sauerkraut as we listened to the music of the Gottscheer Blaskapelle band that often performs at the Lithuanian Club. One of the musicians, Ms. Marianne Schiebli Friend, told us that even though the band is composed of people who are not all of Lithuanian descent, "we feel at home there."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC


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