POUGHKEEPSIE – The pride of Poughkeepsie’s Polish community was on display Sunday morning during a parade to honor General Casimir Pulaski, the “Father of American Calvary.” Parade marchers, joined by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, District Attorney Bill Grady, Mayor Rob Rolison, and former Mayor John Tkazyik stepped off from the steps of St. Joseph’s Church and made their way through parts of the city, culminating in a ceremony at Pulaski Park.
This year marks the 79th anniversary of the dedication of the General Casimir Pulaski monument at the park named in his honor. The statue was erected in 1940 and, according to Tkazyik. “The city has been celebrating ever since.”
Molinaro called the parade “A great way to honor the Polish pride, culture, and history in Poughkeepsie while paying homage to the Polish immigrants who have contributed to the success of this country.”
Mayor Rolison said of the parade “It’s important to remember the contributions and sacrifice of General Pulaski who fought and died for this country.” Pulaski was born in Poland and after unsuccessfully battling the Russians was exiled. On the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, Pulaski ended up in North America where he joined the military being led by George Washington. He was killed in battle fighting for the creation of America. Rolison noted that the parade serves a deeper meaning, saying “It’s a nice way to honor someone who fought for this country even though Pulaski was not from this country.”
In what he says is a “City of immigrants,” Rolison pointed out that even though St. Joseph’s, for decades the predominate Polish church in the area is closed, a small group of members gather on the steps every weekend for religious services. When the church was shuttered, it was absorbed by St. Mary’s.