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Centennial Celebration In "Polish Town"

Polish American Citizens Club of Rochester
"Forgotten Buffalo"

One of the last signs of Rochester’s old Polish Town celebrated its centennial Sunday.

"We're the last building - actual structure - left on Hudson Avenue as a club. Most everybody is either club in name (only) or has a small place to meet somewhere,” said manager Gary Walczak.

On Sunday, the Polish American Citizens club on Hudson Avenue marked 100 years in the community, celebrating with food, reminiscing and polka dancing.

Walczak told WXXI there are about 300 members, but many are older and not active. The club made arrangements to pick up some members so they could attend the anniversary party. The club still hosts family parties and other community events, but it is tougher at 100. The community club faces an aging membership, much like VFWs and American Legions.

Walczak remembers the Hudson Avenue of years ago. "Oh my. It was unbelievable. There was a time when you could walk up and down Hudson Avenue and everybody knew everyone. Everyone were neighbors. It was all the neighborhood Polish families. It was a different generation back then."

"We maintain our little corner on Hudson,” said Walczak. “We maintain our building, keep it up. And, we have very little trouble."

Those at the party shared a lot of memories, and encouraged younger families to consider joining.

What was on the menu? Not kielbasa. The club brought in a caterer. "To do a Polish dinner, explained Walczak –“it's so much work. We run Polish dinners at the club, sporadically, but it's a ton of work. And today we wanted to be able to enjoy everything as well as all the other members."

There was a traditional band, and Walczak was typical of many at the club. He said he had promises for at least five polkas. "It's quite momentous to hit a hundred years."