This year, the program and celebration of this great jubilee consisted of the performance of “Jadran Beaver Valley Tamburitzans” from Aliquippa and “The Tamburitzans” from Pittsbugh, successors of the formerly famous Duquesne tamburica, Duquesene Polytechnic. The program was led by the president of the English speaking CFU Lodges, Michael Ricci, and the national president of the Croatian Fraternal Union, Edward W. Pazo, greeted the audience with a remarkable speech.
Last weekend, September 2 to September 4, the 90th anniversary of the Croatian Day was celebrated in Kennywood Park, a large amusement park for children and adults in the southeastern part of Pittsburgh. At the beginning of the last century, a large emigrant wave from Europe washed over the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean and many immigrants in search of better opportunities and life found their refuge in Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania. Croats also found themselves in that whirlwind. They found work in coal and iron mines, smelters and steel mills. Despite the difficult and long working day, they were given the opportunity to overcome all difficulties and provide a better and safer family life and a better school education for their children. The Croatian language was spoken at home and at all family and social gatherings which meant there was no time for getting better at English. That is why their children and grandchildren were of great help because due their education they spoke English fluently and therefore became translators for their parents and grandparents.
However, as adults these children used the English language more easily and freely and founded the “English-speaking departments of the Croatian Fraternal Union”. Several of these departments joined together and decided to hold Croatian Day once a year in a public place and present our rich Croatian heritage to their members and the American public. The opportunity for that was this amusement park which is visited by thousands of people during the summer. The park also serves many other ethnic groups or peoples to present their culture and traditional customs. The dates when someone will present their cultural heritage have been known for years, and our Croatian weekend is the first week of September and the weekend when Labor Day is celebrated here in America.
That weekend is a true Croatian Day. Croatian music can be heard through public sound systems, souvenirs are sold and Croatian dishes are offered, especially those barbecue and grilled ones. In the afternoon, there is a well-prepared cultural and artistic program with local and foreign guests, including those from Croatia. Many tambura ensembles, singers and folklorists have performed here during these ninety years.
This year, the program and celebration of this great jubilee consisted of the performance of “Jadran Beaver Valley Tamburitzans” from Aliquippa and “The Tamburitzans” from Pittsbugh, successors of the formerly famous Duquesne tamburica, Duquesene Polytechnic. It was a wonderful program filled with professionalism, talent and superb choreographic skill. The auditorium did not spare their palms, and the performers did not spare the ‘boards’ of the stage. The wonderful sounds of musical instruments, dance and song overcame the clatter and screams of children on the little trains that were circling, so to speak, the sky of the park.
The program was led splendidly by the president of the English speaking CFU Lodges, Michael Ricci, and the national president of the Croatian Fraternal Union, Edward W. Pazo, greeted the audience with a remarkable speech. The blessing of the gathering was given from the pulpit by Rev. James Mazurek, who proudly looked back on many beautiful memories from the Croatian Day celebrations which he attended as a child with his mother, born Vučić, and recited in English the Croatian national anthem “Liepa naša domovino”. This beautiful and impressive gesture was greeted by a long-lasting applause.
Text and photos: Franjo Bertović