Ann Arbor, MI
On the sixth of May, the Ann Arbor Polonia Association held our annual general members meeting, which, for the first time, we combined with a spring bonfire. The meeting consisted of a formal part, where we summarized last year’s events and plans for the coming year, reported on our finances, and elected the next year’s board, as well as an informal part, which included a potluck, sausages grilled on the campfire, and a great deal of warm camaraderie. We finished the evening off with many songs sung around the campfire to the accompaniment of our member and talented player Gabriel Ostromecki on the guitar. The meeting was held at our board member Marcin Szczepański’s home (which we are very grateful for sharing with us), and we had more than 50 attendees, including members, guests, and children.
An election of the board for the next term was held, and the board whose term ends in May 2024 will consist of the following AAPA community members:
We are deeply grateful to departing board member and treasurer Paweł Brański for two years of service to the community, and we are looking forward to working with Anna Uchmanowicz, who is joining the board after serving as a community advisor for many years.
The evening’s informal conversations, campfire songs, and delicious food capped off a productive and fun evening for the AAPA community, and we are grateful to all members and guests who were able to attend. We hope to have seen you or to see you soon, at our next two events: our summer picnic at the traditional location of Dexter-Huron Metropark (Central picnic shelter), on Saturday August 19, and the fall bonfire on Saturday October 1 (please mark your calendars!)
Many Polish residents of Ann Arbor and surrounding area gathered on Easter Saturday for a Polish Tradition called Święconka. Święconka is a basket full of samples of traditional Easter foods that are brought to church for blessing. The basket usually contains colorful boiled eggs, smoked sausage, bread, salt, horseradish, and ham. These days in some baskets you can also find chocolate bunnies, olive oil and even wine! Thank you Father Thomas of Old St. Patrick church in Ann Arbor for continuing this tradition.
On January 7, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church in Ann Arbor, a solemn Midnight Mass (Pasterka) was held with children’s Nativity Scenes, where Bishop Earl Boyea was the guest of honor. For many years, the Nativity Scen has been included in the calendar of celebrations organized in the community of the Polish community in Ann Arbor. The main point of the Pasterka program was the performance of young Polish artists – children of the Polish diaspora. Under the leadership of Mrs. Barbara Walkowc, who dealt with the development of the script, the selection of costumes and the organization of rehearsals, our little artists presented their vocal and acting skills. The huge commitment of the young actors paid off, as it made a great impression. Together with the children, the Polish choir, led by Marta Avery, graced the Midnight Mass with a beautiful performance of Christmas carols. It is worth adding that the choristers, having no rehearsals before this celebration, showed the peak of their vocal skills. After the mass, there was a traditional feast of Polish Christmas cakes baked by our community members. This treat, in the preparation of which Amy Olszewski put a lot of time, was indeed a feast for the palate. Perhaps, most importantly, it was an opportunity to integrate the Polish-American community by continuing and maintaining the Polish tradition of holidays and hospitality. Thank you, Amy for your contribution and effort.
This year, as every year, Ann Arbor Polonia Association continued a tradition of running a Baker’s Sale fundraiser at the Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival. The collected funds go to support the events organized by AAPA throughout the year, like our annual picnic, bonfire and other activities. Additionally, this year AAPA donated part of the proceeds to Ukrainian filmmakers; an organization that helps filmmakers and minorities in and from Ukraine and all people who are affected by the war. This was prompted by the fundraising efforts of Roxy Toporowich, the director of the film: Julia Blue, which was screened on the last day of the Festival.
This year our annual Ognisko gathering took place on Saturday October 1st. We were very lucky with an amazing sunny and warm fall day. The turnout was great and we were very happy to see many familiar faces as well as new ones. Below are some photos from the event to share with everyone, especially those who could not attend. We hope that this AAPA tradition will always stay strong.
Every year Ann Arbor Polonia Association runs a Baker’s Sale fundraiser at the Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival. Our last fundraiser brought in $560, not a small feat considering the ongoing pandemic.
The collected funds go to support the events organized by AAPA throughout the year, like our annual picnic, bonfire and other activities.
We are grateful to all who contributed to our fundraising efforts, especially to members who volunteered their time and energy to bake cakes and/or assist with the sale.
The Ann Arbor Polonia Association enjoyed seeing dozens of our members and friends (along with lots of energetic kids, and several tired dogs!) at our annual bonfire (Ognisko!) last weekend in Brighton.
Although the rain came soon after we started, we were surprised and delighted to see not only a huge turnout but virtually nobody leaving when the rain got bad.
Instead, folks covered up the food on the picnic tables, some brought out umbrellas and raincoats, and one family graciously put up a portable roof tent, where a number of people huddled happily while the party continued!
After several rounds of sausage grilling (and smores!), as well as lots of potluck-style food sharing, much of the crowd gathered around the fire to hear our friends Izabella and Gabriel Ostromecki playing the guitar.
Playing guitar, they lead the group in singing several Polish folk songs, including Hej Sokoły, with lots of participation and enjoyment—including by some wide-eyed young kids, probably hearing such Polish singing around the campfire for the first time!
The event was a true success and ended up being one of the most well-attended bonfires in recent years, in spite of the gloomy weather.
We are happy to report that this year we restarted our annual celebration of the summer; Ann Arbor Polonia Association Summer Picnic, after a one year hiatus due to Covid-19. The picnic took place in the usual spot at Dexter-Huron Metropark. Over 50 people of AAPA members and guests gathered for a potluck, grilling kielbasa and kaszanka and a great conversation. We also had a raffle for a Mystery Basket. The proceeds from the raffle go to support AAPA. The winning ticket was drawn by Ania, a lovely little girl from our community. This year we also started a Book Fair for the exchange of Polish books, DVDs and even VHS tapes. Overall, it was a great weather, a joyous atmosphere and a chance to catch up on what everyone had been doing in the summer. We look forward to our next gathering at the annual Ognisko in the fall, October 2nd. Till then, we hope everyone stays happy, healthy and connected!
On a beautiful, sunny day this May 22nd, the Ann Arbor Polonia Association held our 2021 Annual Membership Meeting and had a change of the guard.
Several dozen members met at the home of our generous hosts, Amy and Michal Olszewski, to reflect on the previous year’s activities, to discuss association finances and plans, to thank and discharge the outgoing 2019-2021 Executive Board, and to elect a new board.
Between moments of laughter and camaraderie (as well as some delicious cheesecake, szarlotka and watermelon!), we heard a “State of the Association” report of AAPA activities over the last two years from our President, and we celebrated growth in our membership and resilience despite a difficult pandemic year. We also inducted our slate of association advisors, to whom we are grateful.
Our friends at the Polish Cultural Fund, via PCF President Andrzej Dolata, gave us an update on the organization, and we are looking forward to the Fund’s flagship annual event, the Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival, coming this fall for the 28th time!
The mood at the event was buoyant, with everyone glad to be exiting the muted period of association activity during the pandemic and looking forward to a more normal and active year ahead.
Our newly elected AAPA Executive Board includes:
Anna Bielińska* — President
Alicja Bator-Naguib* — Vice President
Jakub Czyz — Vice President
Marcin Szczepański* — Secretary
Pawel Branski — Treasurer
* returning to service, with much gratitude from the AAPA ranks!
We welcome our new board and look forward to working with them and the entire AAPA membership on making the 2021-2023 term successful and beneficial to our Ann Arbor Polish community and friends!
If you haven’t yet, please join us!
The Polish Cultural Fund and the Festival’s organizing committee had the pleasure to present the 27th Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival (AAPFF). The Film Festival this year took place ONLINE starting Friday, November 6, till Sunday, November 8, 2020, and it was streamed from the Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor. The Festival was a great success and many enjoyed the four feature films: Europa Europa, dir. Agnieszka Holland, Ikar: Legenda Mietka Kosza/Icarus: The Legend of Mietek Kosz, dir. Maciej Pieprzyca, Jak najdalej stąd/ I never cry, dir. Piotr Domalewski, Wyzwanie/Name Code: Challenge, dir. Maciej Dutkiewicz, 2020. As every year, the rich program included curious and thought provoking documentaries and shorts (available for free), as well the interview by the Festival’s and the Copernicus Center (U of M) guest of honor, acclaimed Polish director, Agnieszka Holland.
On August 30th this year, a group of members and friends gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the August 1980 Agreements and the establishment of the Solidarność Movement. The event took place at Hudson Mills Metropark. The celebration was preceded by a 7-mile bike ride from Mill Creek Park in Dexter and some members took this opportunity to get there by cycling. The invited guest speakers: Kasia Kietlinska, Andrzej Myc and Andrzej Dolata shared their reflections on this important anniversary in Poland and their experiences during the turbulent times before and during the Solidarity Movement. We were also honored by the presence of Richard Walawender, Honorary Consul of Poland from Detroit, who highlighted the importance of peaceful protests and the power of people that became Solidarność and the eventual defeat of Communist regime in Poland.
In February, we got together at Haab’s Restaurant in Ypsilanti to express our appreciation to everyone who helped make our Bake Sale at the 2019 Polish Film Festival a great success. The proceeds from the Sale provide valuable funding for our Ann Arbor Polish Association. Twelve people attended the gathering and we shared treats, drinks and good time.
The 2020 annual Wolverine Ball, organized by the Michigan Polish Student Association, was held on February 8th. The black-tie event is always warmly supported by AAPA. Many members of our community enjoy this special get together with its festive atmosphere of food, music and dance. A highlight of the event was the performance of traditional Polish folk dance by the group Rodacy. Significantly, the proceeds from the Ball are always used to support a worthy cause. For 2020, the beneficiary was Gift from the Heart Dar Serca Foundation.
Every year for many years our association organizes Pasterka – Shephers’ Mass at St. Francis of Assisi church. This year’s mass took place on January 20th in the main church, and as in previous years, we had the pleasure of listening to the Polish choir from Troy – Choir Filareci. The group performed traditional Christmas repertoire, including a couple of kolędy – traditional Polish Christmas songs. After the service, we also gathered for a light reception at the Parish Activities Center with traditional Christmas dishes prepared by volunteers from the church, in addition to those brought by the event attendees.
This year’s Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival lived up to the high level we got to expect over the years. The festival, which exhibited several well-made, thought-provoking films, brought together the Polish community in Ann Arbor and Michigan. It was a true celebration of Polish culture and included something for everyone: documentaries, short films and full features, films and a book sale for children, and even a taste of Polish cakes and pastries in a fundraiser for our very own Ann Arbor Polonia Association. Snapshots of the festival are highlighted below. More details, including a list of this year’s winners, can be found here.
As in every fall, we held our annual Polish Ognisko (bonfire) in late September. We gathered at the Brighton Recreation area’s Migizi Cabin for a fun afternoon, roasting polska kielbasa and marshmallow s’mores, and sharing various potluck dishes. As children played in the meadow and surrounding woods, adults conversed and sang Polish songs to guitar music by the fire. Some even stayed overnight in the cabin! See photos from the event below.
Our summer, potluck style picnic at the Dexter-Huron Metro Park has become a wonderful tradition. This year, over 60 participants gathered to enjoy the beautiful weather and splendid company. While adults chatted on the bank of the Huron River, kids explored the shallow water, waded and collected all kinds of river treasures.
Members of the Ann Arbor Polonia gathered at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the June 4 elections in Poland. The 1989 elections led to the peaceful transition to democracy and paved the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall. The gathering was proceeded by a bike ride from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti.