With each generation, there is a growing urgency to provide descendants of
Polish birth with information about their heritage, culture and traditions and to enhance
the knowledge of the contributions Polish immigrants made to America and to the world
civilization. In order to promote this mission on a local level, in October 1987 a number
of members of the former Holy Name Society-Men’s Club of St. John Cantius Church,
Northampton, wanted to celebrate Polish American Heritage Month, an event originated
in 1981 by the Polish American Heritage Cultural Center of Philadelphia, PA. The
founding members of the newly created Polish Heritage Committee were Casimir
Kuczynski, Nicolas Kowalczyk, Walter Grygorcewicz, Robert Gibowicz, and Jesse
Rydenski. A memorial Mass was instituted and celebrated by the parish priest, Rev.
Casimir Switalski. Parish members and the community met at the Pulaski Monument in
Pulaski Park, Northampton for a brief remembrance ceremony with taps offered by
Jesse Rydenski, a founding member. Our first parade included a 3 member Polish
American Veterans Drum Corp from Holyoke, MA followed by area Polish Groups
that marched to Pulaski Park.
Thanks to the interest of many friends of Polonia in the Pioneer Valley, the
Polish Heritage Committee grew to approximately thirty members. The Committee over
the years, planned and successfully carried out and continue to do so many celebrations
of Polish Heritage including a Memorial Mass, Polskie Kolędy (Polish Christmas Carol
Sing Along), Polish Constitution Day, Polish Flag Raising Ceremony in October and the
beautiful Pulaski Day Parade celebrating the contributions of General Casimir Pulaski,
father of the American cavalry and those of Polish heritage who contributed so much to
the growth of our region and nation.