|The crowd began gathering an hour before the 1 p.m. event began.|
More than 100 people gathered at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church Saturday afternoon to mark the first Carpatho-Rusyn Day in North America with the Lake Michigan Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society.
The program was headlined by author Mark Wansa's presentation on his novel, "The Linden & The Oak," but began with a program that opened with the singing of "Ja Rusyn Byl," and included remarks from Dana Hunatova, the Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago.
Hunatova told the audience she had two reasons for accepting the invitation to the event. First, she recognized the connection between the Carpatho-Rusyns and the first Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1939), and second, her Czech father was born in Trans-Carpathia.
The hospitality of the St. Nicholas Parish was noted on many levels, from the comfortable facilities to the hot dog and sloppy joe lunch provided by the parish women. The pastor of St. Nicholas, Father Frank Korba, welcomed his guests by leading the singing of "Carju Nebesnyj" in Church Slavonic.
But the main focus of the afternoon was Wansa's illustrated presentation on the research he did to turn his family story into the expansive novel "The Linden & The Oak."
Wansa repeatedly touched common chords with the audience, composed of Rusyn-Americans, some of whom drove two hours to attend the day's festivities.
Another Lake Michigan Chapter board member, Michael Baron, and his cousin, Jim (Pudlik) Lilek, helped prepare a fitting gift for Wansa to thank him for coming from Albuquerque, N.M., for his presentation -- a bottle of homemade slivovitza that was sampled by members of the board after Saturday's event.
|Tasting the homemade slivovitza|