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Polish heritage celebrated during Pulaski Day parade

Pulaski For 65 years Polish-Americans in Buffalo have celebrated the career of Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski with a parade. 

Today that parade — made up of floats tossing candy, community and ethnic groups and politicians vying for voters — processed down Harlem Road in Cheektowaga to the town's park.

"The reason we come every year is to boost Polish heritage, culture and history," said Brian Rusk, president of the General Pulaski Foundation of the Niagara Frontier for 23 years and the parade's grand marshal.

Other honorary grand marshals included Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, head of the Polish consulate in New York, Bishop Edward M. Grosz representing the Diocese of Buffalo and Christopher Nixon Cox, grandson of former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.

Buffalo's Polonia came out in full force this year on a warm, sunny Sunday. Polish Veterans Post #1, the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper, the Polish Heritage Dancers and Polish American Congress were just a few of the groups with a presence today.

Parade-watchers young and old lined the route this afternoon including Frank and Stella Barnashuk of Lackawanna. The pair are both 80-years-old and will soon celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary.

They sat on two lawn chairs wearing red and white under the shade of a red and white umbrella — the colors of the Polish flag. Barnashuk  

"We thank God that we're Americans and we're also proud of our Polish heritage," Stella said.

Up until five years ago they were "Mr. & Mrs. Dyngus" at St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo.

"Now we're both 80 years old so all we can do is sit in these chairs and enjoy this Polish heritage," she said with a laugh.

Check out the sights and sounds of today's parade:

--Joseph Popiolkowski

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