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Keeping Polish history alive at Pulaski Day Celebration

  • Jennie Moss plays in the Hopkins Academy band during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning.  Directing theband is Dave Skelly.<br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Jennie Moss plays in the Hopkins Academy band during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning. Directing theband is Dave Skelly.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • left Susan Delisle, stands with her parents, Pyyllis and Larry Remillard from Hadley at the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    left Susan Delisle, stands with her parents, Pyyllis and Larry Remillard from Hadley at the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Thomas Watas 5, of Ludlow, stands with back left, David Borawski,7, of Wilberham  and right, Aleksander Wojcik,5, of Ludlow during the 2012 Pulaski Parade <br/>in Northampton.  The group reprsented the Saturday School of Polish Language  from Indian Orchard.  CAROL LOLLIS

    Thomas Watas 5, of Ludlow, stands with back left, David Borawski,7, of Wilberham and right, Aleksander Wojcik,5, of Ludlow during the 2012 Pulaski Parade
    in Northampton. The group reprsented the Saturday School of Polish Language from Indian Orchard. CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Left, Jim Jacobs shows his grandson, Henry Jacobs,4, of Northampton, how much longer till the Pulaski Day Parade starts Monday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Left, Jim Jacobs shows his grandson, Henry Jacobs,4, of Northampton, how much longer till the Pulaski Day Parade starts Monday morning in Northampton.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • left, Carol and Eddie  Forman lay the wreath down at the Pulaski Day ParadeMonday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    left, Carol and Eddie Forman lay the wreath down at the Pulaski Day ParadeMonday morning in Northampton.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kelsey Smith,5, of Enfield Ct., looks underneath her hat while holding the banner for the Windsor Fife and Drum Corps in the Pulaski Parade<br/>Monday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Kelsey Smith,5, of Enfield Ct., looks underneath her hat while holding the banner for the Windsor Fife and Drum Corps in the Pulaski Parade
    Monday morning in Northampton.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Leonard Kokoski, of Hadley plays the guitar with other members of the Silver Moon Band in the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Leonard Kokoski, of Hadley plays the guitar with other members of the Silver Moon Band in the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning in Northampton.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Pulaski parade in Northampton Monday morning.<br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    The Pulaski parade in Northampton Monday morning.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • left, Emily LaRouche,10, of Easthampton,  and Jozie LaRouche,9, of Easthampton with their mother, MaryEllen Marhefka watch the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    left, Emily LaRouche,10, of Easthampton, and Jozie LaRouche,9, of Easthampton with their mother, MaryEllen Marhefka watch the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Joe Lastowski, of Leeds,  throws candy from  the Polish Heritage truck during the Pulaski Parade in Northampton Monday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Joe Lastowski, of Leeds, throws candy from the Polish Heritage truck during the Pulaski Parade in Northampton Monday morning.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • left Remi Shobitan and Willy Shine, both visiting from NY, dance as the Silver Moon Band passes by during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    left Remi Shobitan and Willy Shine, both visiting from NY, dance as the Silver Moon Band passes by during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning.
    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennie Moss plays in the Hopkins Academy band during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning.  Directing theband is Dave Skelly.<br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • left Susan Delisle, stands with her parents, Pyyllis and Larry Remillard from Hadley at the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Thomas Watas 5, of Ludlow, stands with back left, David Borawski,7, of Wilberham  and right, Aleksander Wojcik,5, of Ludlow during the 2012 Pulaski Parade <br/>in Northampton.  The group reprsented the Saturday School of Polish Language  from Indian Orchard.  CAROL LOLLIS
  • Left, Jim Jacobs shows his grandson, Henry Jacobs,4, of Northampton, how much longer till the Pulaski Day Parade starts Monday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • left, Carol and Eddie  Forman lay the wreath down at the Pulaski Day ParadeMonday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Kelsey Smith,5, of Enfield Ct., looks underneath her hat while holding the banner for the Windsor Fife and Drum Corps in the Pulaski Parade<br/>Monday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Leonard Kokoski, of Hadley plays the guitar with other members of the Silver Moon Band in the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning in Northampton. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • The Pulaski parade in Northampton Monday morning.<br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • left, Emily LaRouche,10, of Easthampton,  and Jozie LaRouche,9, of Easthampton with their mother, MaryEllen Marhefka watch the Pulaski ParadeMonday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Joe Lastowski, of Leeds,  throws candy from  the Polish Heritage truck during the Pulaski Parade in Northampton Monday morning.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • left Remi Shobitan and Willy Shine, both visiting from NY, dance as the Silver Moon Band passes by during the Pulaski Paradein Northampton Monday morning. <br/>CAROL LOLLIS

The name on everyone’s lips was Casimir Pulaski, the Revolutionary War general and namesake of Pulaski Park, where the 26th annual Pulaski Day celebration was held. The parade in his honor, held after a Mass of Remembrance at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on King Street, included polka bands, the Hopkins Academy Marching Band, horse-drawn wagons and marchers in traditional Polish dress or Revolutionary War uniforms.

The event drew hundreds to the downtown park, including many Polish Americans wearing the red and white of Poland’s flag and calling out greetings to each other in Pulaski’s tongue.

Scurrying everywhere were children, many clad in the traditional white shirts and brightly beaded vests with wreaths of red and white flowers on their heads. They brought smiles to the faces of many of the speakers at the ceremony, who said that passing on Polish stories, like that of Pulaski, was important to keeping the nationality’s heritage alive.

“This is the future of our history, our traditions and our patriotic spirit,” said keynote speaker Marek Lesniewski-Laas, honorary consul for the Republic of Poland, gesturing to the young audience members.

Lesniewski-Laas, a native of Warsaw who now lives in Boston, described the life of Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski. The nobleman and revolutionary was exiled from Poland and joined the American colonists in their fight for independence in 1776. He was named the head of the cavalry before he died on Oct. 11, 1779, from wounds sustained in battle.

Democratic U.S. Rep. James McGovern, who is running to represent the congressional district that will soon include Northampton, said he is half Polish and grew up steeped in the ethnicity’s traditions. “I’m related to half the people here,” he said jokingly. “I can even polka — not that well, but I can.”

He also said that seeing all the youth at the event alleviated his concerns that traditions were slipping away. “It’s important that our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren understand where we came from,” he said.

During the ceremony, 2012 parade marshals Edward and Carol Forman laid a wreath of red and white flowers at the base of the monument dedicated to Pulaski’s memory.

“To polka fans around the area, this couple needs no introduction,” said Robert Gibowicz of the Polish Heritage Committee, which puts on the event. For everyone else, he explained that Eddie Forman is the former music teacher at Hopkins Academy and leader of one of the area’s longest-playing polka bands. Carol Forman is a fixture on the dance floor at polka events, tirelessly teaching the steps to newcomers, Gibowicz said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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