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Arts, Sports & Culture

Kennywood Ethnic Days Thrive


Pittsburgh's multi-ethnic heritage is celebrated at Kennywood Park multiple times each summer.  Cultural groups gather for more than a dozen nationality days at the amusement park including a Polish Day that has been taking place for 81 years.   Traditional music, dance, ethnic food and kitsch sales, along with awards and religious celebrations, are among the features of a number of the ethnic days.   During Polish Day, Catholic priest Miroslav Stelmaszczyk has for years manned a stand selling massive potato pancakes and dill pickles.  This year, Pittsburgh city councilwoman Natalia Rudiak donned a red T-shirt to reflect the nation's flag and attended Polish Day. She was given a seat on the platform of honored guests where the next "Miss Polonia" was crowned and local artist Dave Motak was named "Polonian of the Year." Rudiak's mother is from Poland, and her father is, she says, "South Side Polish"--meaning he grew up in the heavily Polish Pittsburgh neighborhood.  "I think it's great that we're able to retain our cultural traditions, our folk traditions, even remember the history of why our ancestors came here, so we can move forward with that in the future and recognize other people's challenges maybe in this country or even take some of that history as inspiration as we move through our own challenges " Rudiak said.