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Russian Cultural Garden Committee Holds Annual Maslenitsa Celebration; 2016 Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner

IMG_8957On Sunday, March 13th, our first event took us to the Rockefeller Greenhouse near the Cleveland Cultural Gardens where the Russian Cultural Garden committee conducted its annual Maslenitsa celebration which signifies the end of winter so, since things are warming up lately in Cleveland, it seemed to us a very well-timed event. According to what we read in "Wikipedia"  Maslenitsa just might be the oldest surviving Russian Holiday. "Wikipedia" goes on to say that the most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is the "bliny" or "blini" thin pancakes or crepes and there were a lot of those IMG_8962available at the Rockefeller Greenhouse. Although they are similar in appearance and recipe, no two cooks make them exactly the same.  In fact there was even a "Best Blini" competition presided over by our friend Mr. Ken Kovach wherein the judges were Ms. Debbie Hanson from; Ms. Erika Puussaar from the Estonian Garden committee; Mr. Bob Rotatori from the "Sun Press"; and Ms. Sheila Crawford, President of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.

We talked to Ms. Svetlana Stolyarova who has worked very hard to establish the Russian Garden. Ms. Stolyarova told us that the IMG_8963groundbreaking should be taking place within the next few months and we really look forward to attending.IMG_8968

As for ourselves, we ordered a plate of "blini" intending to eat just a few bites because we are concerned about our weight. As it turned out, we did not eat the entire plateful but we confess to eating more than just a few bites because it was so good.

We couldn't stay as long as we would have wanted at the Maslenitsa gathering because we had to drive to Columbus to attend the 2016 Ohio Democratic Party Legacy dinner which was held at the Convention Center.

Needless to say, we saw a lot of people that we knew and got to know several of them (like Dayton'smayor Ms. Nan Whaley who was continuously upbeat despite the delay) a little better as we IMG_8992stood in line to pass through security to enter the ballroom where the dinner and the program were to take place.

It took almost 45 minutes to get to the doors of the ballroom but tight security was understandable because two candidates for the U.S. Presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. IMG_8981Senator Bernie Sanders were speaking there. Security was also very patient with us as we had to lay out our phone, wallet (with a spare car key inside), 2 sets of keys, a notebook, 4 pens, two sets of business cards, and our coin sock which we are using until we locate a suitable coin purse.

We got to our seat just as a brief but moving film was shown about the late, great U.S. Congressman Lou Stokes. Soon afterwards U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown hurried by on the way to his table. A moment later the senator's wife, Ms. Connie Schultz appeared and looked like she was looking for the senator. We told her that he "went that-a-way" and she smiled and thanked us.

IMG_8989Two other people that we talked to that night were Judge Richard A. Frye of the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County who received a round of applause for his recent ruling that will enable young people aged 17 to vote in the Ohio primary provided they will turn 18 by the date of the November 2016 election, and Sheriff Gene A Kelly of Clark County who receives a holiday card from Margaret W. Wong and Associates each and every year.

In the course of the program a spirited welcome was given by U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (who represents the Columbus area) and Mr. David Pepper, the Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, told us that 3,300 people were in attendance which is the largest ever for the annual democratic dinner in Ohio. Moreover, it was probably the largest turnout for any political dinner in the United States during 2016.

Former Governor and now U.S. Senate candidate Ted Strickland gave an excellent speech in which he highlighted the philosophical differences between himself and U.S. Senator Rob Portman who will be his opponent in November provided Governor Strickland wins the democratic primary on Tuesday as he undoubtedly will.

IMG_8996The first U.S. Presidential candidate to speak was U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders who gave a blistering address largely devoted to the need to achieve economic justice in the United States; we liked it that he limited himself to only a few minutes but he made each of them count. We also liked it that the person who introduced him was our friend, U.S. Congressperson Marcy Kaptur who dedicated her introduction to the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marine division stationed in Brook Park. Congresswoman Kaptur pointed out that both U.S. Senator Sanders and herself voted against the war in Iraq back in 2003.

Then it was time for U.S. Sherrod Brown to introduce the 2nd U.S. Presidential candidate, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. It was during Secretary Clinton's rousing speech that issues pertaining to immigration were brought up for the only time in the entire night. First, she said that "all Americans IMG_9015have the right to fulfill their God-given potential no matter where you come from or what you look like" before she verbally chastised Mr. Donald Trump for conducting a of "hate and fear" to say the least. She really took him to task for wanting to "round-up and toss out" millions of undocumented Hispanic immigrants and believed his views on Muslims ran counter to our nation's principles of religious freedom. Sec. Clinton reminded everyone that we are a nation built by immigrants.

Later in her speech, she indicated that if she were elected she would enact policies that would help to "put an end to the fears of immigrant families laying awake and waiting for that knock on the door" after living in the United States for years. Her speech ran longer than that of U.S. Senator Sanders but she largely covered the same ground by talking about income inequality, workers' rights and trade agreements and, for us, their views appeared to be quite similar.

After Secretary Clinton concluded her speech, the evening was over for most of the attendees but not for us because we had ordered a vegetarian dinner but never received one and were too busy taking photos and notes during the program to do anything about this until all was over.

IMG_9022 Fortunately, we encountered a very empathetic server named Kristina who went out of her way to get us a big plate of rice and vegetables so we wouldn't have to pull off the freeway on our way back to Cleveland to grab a couple of slices of overcooked, rubbery cheese pizza at a convenience market.

In the spirit of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown who always thanks the people who serve him at these functions, we thank Kristina!!!


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.


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