by Anna Livia Brady
In the midst of Oktoberfests, Day of The Dead celebrations, and endless Halloween shindigs, other lesser known gaieties are often shoved under the rug or forgotten about. But fortunately, thanks to the Polish Mission of San Diego, that is not the case for SD Polish Americans. On the weekend of October 12-14, St. Maximilian Parish of Pacific Beach hosted its annual Polish Festival, of which I had the great privilege of attending.
After arriving about an hour early (I was too eager to wait any longer), I stepped inside the tiny parish, flipping through Polish hymnals and seeing the light glaze through the stained glass windows of Faustina Kowalska and John Paul II. After that, the volunteers started admitting people ($5 for ages 16 and up, I recommend bringing cash).
It was so fascinating how drastically different a corner could become after loyal San Diego Poles volunteered hours to transform it into a mini Krakow. The smells of pierogi and paczki took me back to World Youth Day 2016, and the dancers’ vibrant handmade costumes popped against the overcast sky. Sitting down to listen to the performers, I could hear the soft buzz of fluent Polish speakers.
What really astounded me about the whole ordeal was not only the authenticity (as all the food and beer were imported from Chicago, made by Polish people) but the inclusivity of it all. Most of the attendees had the whole “Slavic look” going on (which is hard to pin down, but trust me, when you see it, you’ll know it), but there were others of every race, every age, and even every orientation. It was really beautiful to just embrace those moments, not to dwell on the past (which for Poland is pretty messy) or worry about the future.
Unfortunately, by the time you read this, the Festival will have ended, but stay tuned for upcoming local events to spark up your stay at JPCatholic! Na Zdrowie!