Tonawanda News — Hundreds of people packed inside the Dom Polski Social Club for a Dyngus Day tradition dating back more than a half century in North Tonawanda.
Organizers capped the number of attendees at 230, turning away dozens of more, many of whom came dressed the traditional red garb and carrying pussy willows and Polish pride.
Cathy Brachmann, president of Dom Polski, said Dyngus Day has grown in popularity in recent years around Western New York, with many residents, Polish and not, taking vacations around the Easter holiday.
While she said the social club has a membership of 270, renewed interest has been sparked among much of the community, who flood to the club each year in increasing numbers to celebrate the end of the Lenten season.
“We have a lot of outsiders, about 70 percent of the people who come here today aren’t Polish,” Brachmann said. “Back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s a big part of the North Tonawanda avenues were Polish. But many of them have passed on.”
The day was bittersweet, however, with the news that the group’s longtime president, Roberta Pfeil, passed away last week. Brachmann, who said the close-knit group was still absorbing the loss of their friend, read an ode to Pfeil’s life before the polka music led by the Kathy Carr Band.
“Dyngus Day this year is very emotional for us,” Brachmann said. “It was Berta’s favorite holiday.”
Nonetheless, the show must go on and many families who attended Dyngus Day along Oliver Street said they came because of Dom Polski’s reputation for a good party.
Niagara Falls resident Gail Foreman, who was standing in a longer-than-usual line waiting for a plate of buffet-style sausage, salad and rye bread, said she came to North Tonawanda with 15 of her relatives.