Food and music kicks off Pulaski Days return to Grand Rapids

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GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Pulaski Days is back in Grand Rapids after COVID-19 canceled last year’s event.

The week-long festival celebrates Polish culture through music, dance and food. This year’s theme is “Keep Calm and Polka”.

“This is a great time for everyone to get together,” said Bob Quick, who was in attendance at 5th Street Hall Thursday with his wife, sister and brother-in-law.

Dave Snyder, who came with his wife, Theresa Rademecher, said: “We are regulars. Every year we try to go out at least once a night [to] get off and enjoy it. It’s funny.”

Pulaski Days was founded in 1973 by Ed Cyzyk and Walter Ulanch to support local clubs with the wider western Michigan community.

It is named after General Casimir Pulaski, hero of the American Revolutionary War and Polish immigrant. According to Pulaski Days, he was “the father of America’s ordeal, an unparalleled general and a man known throughout Europe for his bravery and perseverance in the defense of freedom.”

“A lot of venues basically need this weekend to help them survive through the year or get caught up with the bills,” said Theresa Nink, Pulaski Days board chair.

Nink and her sister, Lisa Settle, who is the secretary of the board, help plan the festival each year.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic forced the board of directors to cancel the event. Nink and Settle said two rooms were almost closed because of it, but a mix of fundraising, grants and creative offerings, like a curbside service, kept the 14 rooms open for the celebration of 2021.

“It was a little weird not having all of the events, but they did what they could,” Settle said.

Due to the gap year and good weather, organizers expect large crowds throughout the weekend.

The participants declared that they were for the return of the Pulaski Days and that they were ready to continue the polka.

“It was a struggle,” Rademecher said. “You feel isolated. You kind of feel left out of being social and enjoying a regular, happy, and secure life. “

“I’m so excited,” Settle said. “I live, eat and breathe Pulaski Days. “

For a full list of events, click here.

SEE MORE: Pulaski Days Brings Traditional Polish Food to West Michigan

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