Pulaski Day Parade flowers on the Parkway

Cousins Courtney Carpenter Logan (left) and Julia Logan dance before the start of the Pulaski Day Parade. They were part of the group from St. Josaphat Church.
Cousins Courtney Carpenter Logan (left) and Julia Logan dance before the start of the Pulaski Day Parade. They were part of the group from St. Josaphat Church. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 16, 2012

The annual Pulaski Day Parade, on funding life support in 2010, was in full red-and-white Polish flag flowering on Benjamin Franklin Parkway Sunday afternoon.

In the parade was a 16-year-old Lower Moreland High School student who has been studying the Polish language privately for 11 years.

On the sidelines was a 21-year-old Polish university student visiting the region with her Polish parents.

And across from the reviewing stand at Logan Circle was a German Irish American mother from Levittown with no Polish connections who was there to see her son march with a Bucks County school band.

A good ethnic mix marching and watching.

In 2010, after funding concerns, the Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund agreed to cover the city's setup and cleanup costs for 10 parades and festivals.

Michael Blichasz, a longtime organizer of the annual parade, said Sunday at the reviewing stand that since then, the fund had given commitments for his event through 2015.

So he said he was focusing on a more historic theme of the event - "the 404th anniversary of the first Polish settlers in America at Jamestown, Va., in 1608."

Yolanda Gratkowski, 16, daughter of much later Polish settlers, was marching with the Polish Language School contingent from St. John Cantius parish in Bridesburg.

The Lower Moreland High School junior takes Polish-language classes from 5 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, work that has helped on her visits to Poland when she was 9 and again when she was 13.

Heritage was only part of her motivation.

If her language ability is remarkable enough, she said, "we get a larger scholarship" for college studies.

Andre Mudragel, 49, was in the parade, though he was born in Kiev and is of Ukrainian background.

Mudragel, a graphics designer from Levittown, N.Y., was among a dozen historical reenactors near the parade's end, all in costumes representing moments of Polish ascendancy in the 1600s.

Dressed as a Ukrainian cossack in fur hat and clothes he fashioned himself, he said he had been attending such events for a half-dozen years "to learn more about your heritage."

That was why he had brought his son, Vladimir, 22, a recent college graduate, marching with him back to the past.

Thirty members of the Polish American String Band were there. So were 130 members of the Pennsbury High School marching band.

Enough of a Philadelphia flavor to entertain an out-of-towner like Anna Kozlowska, 21, a finance major at a university in Poznan.

"I was here 10 years ago to visit family and friends" with her parents, she said, and now they all were on a 10-day visit, primarily for a wedding.

Her accent-free English was not polished up just for this visit.

"I've been studying it," she said, "since I was 7."

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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