Maspeth Federal Savings, Newtown Historical Society, Juniper Park Civic Association and the Knockdown Center teamed up on April 9th to sponsor a free Polish Music Festival as part of a year-long series of events honoring the 375th Anniversary of the founding of Maspeth. The event was organized by Christina Wilkinson, Kim Caruana, Tony Nunziato and Daniel Kurzyna.
Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra, winner of 18 Grammy Awards, headlined the event. The band’s special guest vocalist for the afternoon was Eddie Biegaj. Several couples chose to dance while the rest of the 150 people in the crowd simply sat back and enjoyed the 3-set concert.
The afternoon festivities at the Knockdown Center were emceed by the very popular long-time polka DJ, Bill Shibilski. The children of the Wianek Polish Folk Dance Company delighted the crowd by performing two songs and two traditional dances in colorful traditional Polish costumes. Gary Colter served as DJ before the show and during intermissions.
In addition to the entertainment, free refreshments were available, donated by Kubus European Delicatessen, Frank’s Deli and Continental Pastry. A traditional Polish Easter basket, donated by the Newtown Historical Society and Enchanted Florist, served as the door prize. The big winner was Agnes Zgorzelski.
Short speeches were given by invited dignitaries including Assembly Member Brian Barnwell, radio personality and Guardian Angels founder, Curtis Sliwa and Fr. Miroslaw Podymniak, pastor of St. Adalbert’s Church, the first Polish congregation in the area, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The Frank Kowalinski Post No. 4 of the Polish Legion of American Veterans was represented by WWII vet John Kempisty. Sturr publicly recognized the German musical group, die Schlauberger, who had stopped by after performing at Manor Oktoberfest to take in the band’s last set, as well as Carole Golis, founder of Maspeth’s Polonaise Folk Dancers, who was in attendance.