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Dyngus Day rolls out the fun

Polkas mark 2nd Polish community festival in Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- The Irish have their traditional St. Patrick's Day parade, and Cleveland's Polish community has a parade of its own with a twist -- Dyngus Day, also known as the Accordion March.

More than 1,000 participants, not counting spectators who lined West 58th Street, attended the second annual Dyngus Day parade.

The march started at the Parkview Night Club on West 58th Street and headed south two blocks to the Happy Dog restaurant and bar on at the corner of West 58th and Detroit Avenue on Monday.

An hour before the 5 p.m. parade start, 300 people jammed the Parkview to watch Justin Gorski, also known as parade leader D.J. Kishka, conduct a Ms. Dyngus Day pageant and enjoyed genuine Polish beers such as Tyskie and Stawski.

Six women vied for the honor, including 86-year-old Gloria Stoker of Oakwood, who was clearly the best at dancing to the Percolator Polka.

Candidates were tested in four other categories, including who wore the best babushka.

The judges named DeAnna Domino-Sierputowski, 27, who lives in Cleveland's Tre- mont area, the winner. She was crowned with a kielbasa -- a smoked Polish sausage -- planted on her tiara, and carried a scepter with a pierogi on top.

"This is the second greatest day of my life, next to marrying my husband, Jeff," she said. "I was very nervous competing and surprised I won. It was a belated birthday gift -- my birthday was on Easter Sunday."

Mr. Gorski then had Ms. Dyngus sit on a white patio chair, and she was carried triumphantly down West 58th as the parade centerpiece while a dozen accordion players and four tuba players performed the "Beer Barrel Polka."

Jack Shaver said he drove from Florida to attend the festivities. He said only 200 attended last year and they withstood heavy rains. But he said the concept was good.

The Cleveland Dyngus Day, pronounced "dean-goose," was founded by Mr. Gorski, Billy Scalon, and Parkview Night Club owner Norman Plonski, who saw how popular it was seven years ago in Buffalo.

"It's just a fun way to bring Polish culture to the forefront in Cleveland," Mr. Gorski said.

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