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Buffalove in Cheektowaga

Buffalo Rising isn’t in the habit of posting about happenings in the suburbs, but it’s not every day that a foreign government heaps a helping of Buffalove on our city (more on that below). If that just happens to happen slightly over the city line in Cheektowaga, we’ll still take that, thank you.

And so it happened that I found myself in The Land of the Pink Flamingoes last weekend, taking in the annual Pulaski Day parade, taking a swim in a sea of red and white.

It was an easy visit. Just blocks from home, I caught the 22 Summer-Best bus, slapped $2 in the till, and before I knew it was on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga. I headed for Cheektowaga Town Park, a sprawling campus which seems entirely befitting the center of life for a suburban town. I made a point of exploring it more than on other visits there, and discovered just how much it is so. It has nearly everything: playgrounds; walking trails; an ice rink; many town offices, including youth and recreation; playing fields; picnic shelters; a public pool; an outdoor auditorium; and the lovely Reinstein Library. And hardly surprising for a suburb, acres of grass and parking.

I also discovered, not to my surprise, given Cheektowaga’s Polish heritage, that park is surrounded by Catholicism. There are Catholic parishes just a block from two corners of this sprawling park. One is St. John Gualbert, which on August 6 will be the site of the next Buffalo Mass Mob (more about that to come). And bookending the park to the east and west are other Catholic institutions: Sisters Hospital and Villa Maria College.

And indeed, Catholic parishes were well represented in the parade, with floats from Corpus Christi Church, St. John Kanty, St. Stan’s, and St. Adalbert Basilica. Related Polish-American organizations, like the Chopin Singing Society and the Am-Pol Eagle, also showed their red and white colors.

Marching bands and civic organizations like the and Polish dance troops also marched, and stopped before the review stand and news cameras to show their stuff.

The Ukrainians also proved popular, no one seeming to mind that they snuck into a Polish parade. After all, both nations have a shared, sad history of aggression and oppression by the great powers to the east and west. Yuri Hreshchyshyn drove Mark Kubiniek’s “AutoMobius” – the Push-Me-Pull-You of cars – before the Ukrainian dancers, and even did some impromptu choreographing of the car into the dance.

Although I missed the elected officials (read: incumbents) marching toward the head of the parade, I did get to see many of their electoral challengers, who are relegated to bringing up the rear. (Is that fair?) I didn’t recognize the names of the candidates for Cheektowaga town offices, but several county-level candidates were familiar, including Steve Cichon for Clerk, Vanessa Glushefski for Comptroller, and Bernie Tolbert for Sheriff. At that point I scored some good candy. Yum!

But Buffalo’s big moment came at the ceremony when elected officials from Cheektowaga and Buffalo honored the parade’s honorary Grand Marshal, Poland’s Secretary of State Anna Maria Anders. Anders reciprocated the honor by proclaiming Buffalo “the tops.” The Buffalo News quoted her thus:

I’m going to go back to Poland and tell them that Buffalo is the tops,” Anders said. “The best people. The best Polonia. And we absolutely have to work together.

Post-parade fun included checking out the Polish-American swag and music at the festival being held at the town park.

Between Buffalo and the nearby suburbs, in the summers around here it seems you are never more than a walk or transit ride away from a festival or parade – or both. Make sure you are taking full advantage. After all, Buffalo is tops!

PHOTO GALLERY:

Written by RaChaCha

RaChaCha

RaChaCha is a Garbage Plate™ kid making his way in a Chicken Wing world. Since 2008, he's put over a hundred articles on here, and he asked us to be sure to thank you for reading. So, thank you for reading. You may also have seen his freelance byline in Artvoice, where he writes under the name his daddy gave him [Ed: Send me a check, and I might reveal what that is]. When he's not writing, RaChaCha is an urban planner, a rehabber of houses, and a community builder. He co-founded the Buffalo Mass Mob, and would love to see you at the next one. He represents Buffalo Young Preservationists on the Trico roundtable. If you try to demolish a historic building, he might have something to say about that. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum.

Things you may not know about RaChaCha (unless you read this before): "Ra Cha Cha" is a nickname of his hometown. (Didn't you know that? Do you live under a rock?) He's a political junkie (he once worked for the president of the Monroe County Legislature), but we don't really let him write about politics on here. He helped create a major greenway in the Genesee Valley, and worked on early planning for the Canalway Trail. He hopes you enjoy biking and hiking on those because that's what he put in all that work for. He was a ringleader of the legendary "Chill the Fill" campaign to save Rochester's old downtown subway tunnel. In fact, he comes from a long line of troublemakers. An ancestor fought at Bunker Hill, and a relative led the Bear Flag Revolt in California. We advise you to remember this before messing with him in the comments. He worked on planning the Rochester ARTWalk, and thinks Buffalo should have one of those, too (write your congressman).

You can also find RaChaCha (all too often, we frequently nag him) on the Twitters at @HeyRaChaCha. Which is what some people here yell when they see him on the street. You know who you are.

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