GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This weekend marks the 45th anniversary of the Pulaski Days celebrations in Grand Rapids.
“Forty-five years for an organization is a wonderful thing — to be involved in West Michigan, to be out and giving Polish pride, spirit and joy to everybody, bringing in Polish food, music and opening our doors to 14 Polish halls to say everyone is welcome,” said Michelle Kershner, the chairwoman of Pulaski Days.
Grand Rapids is home to one of the largest Polish communities in the United States.
“Come one, come all! It’s probably one of the greatest places you could go. Sit, relax, have a nice alcoholic beverage, have a great time and really enjoy yourself,” Kershner said.
Pulaski Days is also using this weekend as an opportunity to reach out to new residents of West Michigan and show them what it’s like to be a member of a Polish hall.
“We’re so excited to be really promoting and going out to the youth to say to them to come be part of the Polish pride, come take part in our 14 Polish halls,” said Kershner.
For Kershner, this year is much more than just another Pulaski Days — 26 years ago she was crowned the Pulaski Queen.
“I guess I like to think I’m the matriarch of spreading good Polish pride to everyone. I’m so glad my Polish pride is out there, available and spreading it to everybody in the community,” said Kershner.
She is the first ever Pulaski Queen to go on to become the chairwoman of the organization.
“For me to be standing here at the 45th anniversary, and not the queen, but the chairwoman — it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Kershner said.
It was in 1991 when Kershner won her title, and it was also the year Grand Rapids became a sister city to Bielsko-Biala, Poland.
She has traveled there as a city representative, and this year she has had the opportunity to welcome delegates from Bielsko-Biala to Grand Rapids to join in the Pulaski Days celebrations.