A Piece Of Ukraine In Parma
It is easy to notice right away that religious faith is a major component in the fabric of the Ukrainian community. Therefore then, it is not hard to imagine how it might be that the Ukrainian community feels that God was watching over them as they picked just about the most picture perfect September morning to dedicate the Ukrainian Village in Parma. The ceremonies started with a moving religious service held at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on State Rd. south of Snow Rd. at 9:30a.m. Then began a parade which proceeded at an exquisitely slow pace travelling north on State Rd. The start of the parade had a solemn feel; fronted by 3 members of the Ukrainian American Veterans Association Post 24, one veteran wearing field camouflage, one dressed in uniform bearing the U.S. flag, the third dressed in uniform bearing the Ukrainian flag. Following closely were three altar boys carrying heavy looking Ukrainian Orthodox crosses. After them were several clergy members dressed in black garments carrying many colorful religious banners as well as the U.S. flag, the Ohio flag, and the Ukrainian flag. Next were the members of the United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio, led by Maria Kvit-Flynn, vice president and main organizer of this event.Then came a multitude of groups celebrating this very special day in Parma, including a colorfully dressed group of young men and women wearing native dress of red boots, frocks fringed with dazzling floral patterns amid endless ribbons and sashes. Occasionally they would stop, and accompanied by rhythmic hand clapping they would break into an impressive dance, which featured graceful spinning turns by the ladies, and knee bending thrusts by the men holding imitation spears (I hope!), whirling about with watch-like precision, much to the sheer delight of the crowd; just about exactly what one would expect to see at an event showcasing Ukrainian Culture. There were many more representatives of the Ukrainian community featured in the parade, including the Ukrainian Women's League, St. Andrew Catholic Church, and still even more than I can list here. The Parma High School Marching Band and Majorettes provided a spirited pulse to the entire event.
The parade ended at st. Josephat's Cathedral, and this is where the official dedication ceremonies began. Jack Marschall, Director of Community Affairs for the City of Parma was the Master of Ceremonies, and what a fine job he did throughout. He graciously asked the audience to "forgive me in advance" when he issued a greeting in the Ukrainian language, but it sounded fairly convincing to me. The Dnipro Chorus sang stunning versions of both the Star Spangled Banner as well as the Ukrainian National Anthem. I found that the name of their group is from the name of the largest river in Ukraine, an important source of inspiration for the people. Then a group of young men and women dressed in ultra colorful native costumes danced "the welcome dance", which was visually amazing and highly entertaining, to say the least. They whirled around, with much spinning, weaving, jumping, clapping, and stomping, culminating with the group parting and a young lady advancing gracefully with a beautiful smile holding a delicious looking cake. I don't know about everyone else, but I most certainly felt welcome and I was hoping to have a nice big slice of that cake!
Prominent speakers were then introduced by Jack Marschall. First was Mayor Depiero, who spoke passionately in congratulating everyone who's hard work had helped to make this event happen, and he said that he was sure that the creation of the Ukrainian Village would serve as a spark in a renewed sense of community in Parma, Ohio. Next was the President of the United Ukrainian Organizations of Ohio, who spoke, sometimes in Ukrainian, and graciously thanked everyone who had made this great day a reality. Then Congressman Kucinich spoke, and to great applause, reminded everyone that by establishing the Ukrainian Village, this meant that now and forever there would be a little piece of Ukraine in Parma, Ohio. Following him was State Senator Dale Miller, who told the crowd that he was so proud to be the one chosen to present the official recognition of the Ukrainian Village by the State of Ohio. Finally, George Brown, Field Representative for U.S. Senator Voinovich took the stage and presented a Proclamation by the U.S. Senate recognizing the Ukrainian Village in Parma, Ohio.
Much more dancing and singing followed, and afterwards there was an all day festival held in the impressive domed community center of St. Josephat's Cathedral, featuring food. drink. memorabilia, crafts, cultural displays, and much more. The festival was crowded early on, and looking at all of the many faces, even though I couldn't always understand everything that was being said, it was plain to see just how proud everyone was at what had been accomplished here. Congratulations Ukrainian Village, on all of your hard work and in becoming another great jewel in the Parma Necklace!