Hungarian and Estonian Gatherings

Our next two events for Sunday, February 24th, involved meals with representatives of our Hungarian and Estonian communities.

First, we went to the parish hall at St. Emeric Church on West 22nd Street to attend the annual banquet put on by the American Hungarian Friends of Scouting (AHFS) to raise money in order that the worthy programs of the Hungarian Scouts, first established in 1951, can continue for the benefit of young men and women so that they will never lose sight of their Hungarian heritage and culture while having a good time with scouting activities.

During the ceremonies, our friend Mr. Michael Horvath, President of the Cleveland chapter, thanked us for our support and let it be known that February 22nd, just two days prior, was the birthday of both Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell who founded the Boy Scouts Association in 1909-1910 as well as his wife, Olave, who was a major force behind the Girl Scouts. Mr. Horvath said that February 22nd was thus regarded as “Founders’ Day” and the younger scouts had a good time trying to memorize Baden-Powell’s entire name.  

During lunch, we sat with Mr. Albert Hornyak who, upon learning that we were part of the Margaret W. Wong team, recalled that both his paternal grandfather and his great-uncle immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1912 aboard the Carpathia, on the same voyage in which the Carpathia rescued Titanic survivors. We also stayed to see Ms. Krisztina Naolas, District Commander, recognize and honor scouts who, after years of training, were now ready to serve as leaders and help guide the younger participants.

Afterwards, we drove over to Marie’s Restaurant on St. Clair Avenue to attend a dinner that commemorated Estonian Independence Day which marks the anniversary of the country’s Declaration of Independence in 1918.

Before we enjoyed our meal, Mr. Toomas Tubalkain, a fine historian, gave a presentation in which he spoke of the origins and the importance of the internationally acclaimed Estonian Song Festival, Now 150 years-old, the festival takes place every five years in July on the Tallin Song Festival Grounds simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival and has been honored by UNESCO as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” Mr. Tubalkain is very much looking forward to attending the song festival for the first time this very summer. He lent us his notes which read, in part:

“The festivals have become the main anchor of Estonian identity. Twice the song celebrations have lead to Estonia’s independence. In the 19th century, the choirs and song celebrations were at the core of the national awakenings of Estonian peasants, who discovered the value of their own language and cultural heritage through singing. The national awakening and establishment of identity led to Estonian independence in 1918. After WWII, during the Soviet occupation, the song celebrations helped keep the national identity alive…”

Mr. Tubalkain made a wise choice choosing Marie’s Restaurant as the venue for this annual gathering because both the food and the ambiance have a distinctive European flavor. What’s more, it is owned and operated by Ms. Mila Saljic and her family who care very much about giving their guests a wonderful dining experience.

During the course of the meal, we visited with Ms. Annely Thayer who, like us, enjoys having a coffee every now and then at the Starfish coffee house in Painesville. We also encountered a person who immigrated to the United States and obtained his/her green card with the help of Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC.

The meal concluded with everyone taking part in a birthday celebration for Mr. Aavo Puussaar, husband of Ms. Erika Puussaar, in which “Happy Birthday” was sung in both English and the Estonian languages.