Dyngus Day Celebration
Monday, April 6th, was the day after Easter which means that it was Dyngus Day, a custom that, according to our Dyngus Day literature, "has been celebrated for thousands of years on Easter Monday in Poland and other European cultures. It marks the conclusion of Easter and the often restrictive time of Lent, with Polish music, beer and cuisine." Here in Cleveland we had our 5th Annual celebration of Dyngus Day in various locales throughout the city but we chose to stay close to Kishka's Beer Tent at West 58th Street and Detroit Avenue in the Detroit-Shoreway area where polka bands played all day and people had a good time. We had a good time listening to the Chardon Polka Band and Fred Zwich's International Sound Machine. For lunch we had some delicious vegan potato/leek and sweet potato/chorizo pierogis (naturally served with onions but we said 'no' to the sour cream) and a vegan chocolate chip cookie provided by Cleveland Vegan Catering and Café.
Other groups that tabled there were Polka Hall of Fame, Cleveland Pickle and Sandwich Shop, Rudy's Strudel, First Federal of Lakewood, and Sterle's Schnitzel and Sausage Shop. We saw several people that we knew including Mr. Tom Mrosko from Migration and Refugee Services, Mr. Tom Ranken from First Federal of Lakewood, and Mr. Nick Martin from the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
We talked to Ms. Lori Sierputowski from the Polka Hall of Fame about how Dyngus Day was celebrated and she told us that during the 1960's, when her children were growing up, boys and girls used to squirt each other with squirt guns. The tradition has evolved from a time when girls took the lion's share of having water actually dumped on them from a bucket and having their legs swatted with pussy willow branches.
Later in the day, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone presented DJ Kishka, who organized the event, with a proclamation from Cleveland City Council for all of his work organizing this annual event for the last few years that 35,000 people are expected to attend (a grand total from the various locations) on this day. Councilman Zone said that DJ Kishka was "awesome" and one of the "coolest people in Gordon Square."
DJ Kishka was quite flattered and said that he would cherish the proclamation because it will show his children that "I did something with my life!" He then kicked off a tribute to "Cleveland's Own Polka Superstar" the late Mr. Frankie Yankovic who would have been 100 years old in 2015 and whose son, Mr. Bob Yankovic, was a musician playing right up there on the stage. The format consisted of DJ Kishka reading a few paragraphs about Mr. Frankie Yankovic's life and then stopping for a musical number of one of Mr. Yankovic's songs and then start reading again. We learned that Mr. Yankovic's parents immigrated to the United States from Slovene and he was born in West Virginia in 1915. When he was young his family moved to Cleveland where the boy became fascinated by the Slovenian musicians who boarded at their home. He learned how to play the accordion and went on to adapt Slovene songs to his own style of music and eventually became on of Cleveland's most beloved icons.
We love polka music and had a good time at the celebration even though so much music and so many people in one small area became exhausting after several hours. We decided to take a break and walked over to Gypsy Beans for some coffee. While we were there we met a person named Barbara and her friend Susan who were celebrated Barbara's own birthday by waving at the people who passed by the window (and there were quite a few of them) who generally smiled and waved back. Barbara was having a wonderful time so we wished her a very happy birthday before we headed back to the annual jamboree.
At 5 PM we headed over to the Mad Stone Pub on West 65th because Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther was having a fundraiser there for his mayoral campaign. Ms. Wong was very sorry that she, herself, was unable to attend but we had heard a lot of good things about Councilman Ginther so we seized the opportunity to go and meet him. As we arrived we noticed that, due to Dyngus Day, the whole area was all parked up and we were sorry that we did not think about this in advance because we would have contacted Councilman Ginther's staff and suggested that they might consider moving their event to another location. We told this to our friend, Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady, who said that he didn't think of it either. Nevertheless, about 20 to 30 people turned out from both the Cleveland and the Columbus areas and nobody seemed to mind walking a few extra blocks.
This fundraiser was organized by Mr. Lewis W. Adkins, a prominent attorney in Columbus, who told us to give his best to Ms. Margaret W. Wong. Councilman Minther was introduced by U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan who joked about it being Dyngus Day because Councilman Minther was Polish-American. He went to say that he respected Councilman Minther's work with the Children's Hunger Alliance and with the Columbus City Council. He praised the administration of the current mayor of Columbus, Mr. Michael B. Coleman, and said that Councilman Ginther had been the mayor's partner through all of it. He concluded by saying that both he and U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge think very highly of Mr. Minther due to his "utmost integrity and leadership skills" and that it is a "pleasure for me to endorse him" because he will "move Columbus to the next level."
It was then Councilman Minther's time to speak and he thanked Congressman Ryan and Congresswoman Fudge for their support. He also thanked Council President Brady who he used to work for when Council President Brady was a Ohio State Senator. Councilman Minther even met his wife when he was working for then State Senator Brady in 1999.
Councilman Minther went on talk about how closely aligned Cleveland and Columbus are because they help each other "grow, thrive, and develop" and thus they have "a unique relationship." He also noted that this was the first event that he had ever had in the Cleveland area and he thanked everyone for sharing Dyngus Day with him.
We had a conversation with Mr. Nick Bankston, Councilman Minther's scheduling coordinator, who told us that Councilman Minther was regarded as the front runner in this contest that now consists of four or five candidates. First there will be a primary on May 5th and then the two top vote getters will go on to compete in the runoff on November 3rd. He seemed pretty confidant about Councilman Minther's chances in both contests as did everyone else at this event that we talked to including Columbus Council President Pro Tempore Michelle M. Mills who will be the new council president if Councilman Minther becomes the next mayor. We learned that she was raised in Cleveland.
Other fine people that we talked to were Ms. Mary Lynn Foster, CEO of the Children's Hunger Alliance, and Ms. Kathleen Sweeney who was there with other members of the family of Ohio State Rep. Martin J. Sweeney, who used to be the president of the Cleveland City Council.
Of course we got to meet Councilman Andrew Minther, himself, who impressed us as very mature (he is not yet 40 years old) and he gave his best to Ms. Wong. We were glad we got to meet him and we will keep our fingers crossed for him in the upcoming months.