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Reviving Casimir Pulaski Day, The Most Chicago Holiday

Pulaski Day is still sparingly observed, but it needs to make a comeback in Chicago.

Pulaski Day
Photo: Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times

A few years back, students and government employees would get the first Monday in March off for Casimir Pulaski Day. Most Chicagoans have already asked the question, “Who the hell is Casimir Pulaski?” To that, they find out he is a Polish-born Revolutionary/American war hero who was the founder of the U.S. Cavalry. In 1986, a holiday was assigned in his honor in Chicago due to the large Polish population. Chicago has the second-largest Polish population outside of Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. Every other city in Poland ranks behind Chicago. Pulaski has streets, schools, churches, banks, and other Chicago institutions named after him. Even songs by Chicago artists have been written with him in it and beers have been brewed in his name.

The Decline

In the early 2000s, kids in the suburbs would get this day off. It would be a great last day in the snow or one of the first warm days of the year. Slowly but surely, the man has started to take away the holiday. Businesses that once had the day off are now open on the first Monday in March. It disappeared from student holiday calanders in the farthest suburbs and slowly trickled its way to the city. We are now to the point where CPS is starting their in-person learning for 2021 on this glorious holiday.

And while everyone is forced to work and go to school, the City of Chicago government officials use it as an excuse not to work… which they are great at doing.

Pulaski Day has been a tradition and you don’t mess with tradition! We need to bring this holiday back before we lose our identity, Chicago.

How to Bring Back and Celebrate Pulaski Day

Once we do bring this holiday back, the first action call for every business, not just public institutions and schools, to be closed for celebration. Regardless of Polish heritage or not, everyone should feel free to participate ala St. Patrick’s Day. There will be activities for all, but more if you are 21+.

Morning

Wake up and do a shot of Jezy (Jezynowka). Jezy is Polish Blackberry Brandy which is behind every Polish basement bar in the Chicago area. While it’s not just straight-up Polish, the Battle of Brandywine was the battle in which Pulaski made a name for himself to George Washington.

Breakfast will consist of Paczkis. Yes, Fat Tuesday wasn’t too long ago, but Pulaski Day can be another boost to bakeries across Chicagoland.

Streets should shut down, especially Pulaski, and there should be polka music with dancing and drinking in the street. Coolers and snowbanks should be full of Zywiec.

Afternoon

Lunch has to be a Vienna Beef Maxwell Polish. Local hot dog stands make Chicago what it is and have always had the people’s back.

At one point in the afternoon, the Dan Ryan and Lakeshore Drive should be shut down for horseback riding — a perfect way to tribute the cavalry. The proceeds of renting a horse for a ride could be used to help promote some of the city’s charities.

Night

The dinner menu will most certainly feature pierogis. The Polish dumplings are the staple of any Polish person’s diet. In northwest Indiana, they even drop a giant lit-up pierogi for New Year’s and have a whole festival dedicated to it. This food needs to be brought back to the forefront of Chicago’s food landscape.

More polka music and drinking should follow until people are too tired and fall asleep awaiting a short four-day work week ahead.

Thank you Casimir Pulaski! Happy Pulaski Day to all!


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