Cleveland's Rusyn community took part in the 75th One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens on August 29, 2021. John Krenisky marched in the Parade of Flags and they hosted visitors in their beautiful Rusin Cultural Garden.
John Krenisky carrying the Rusyn flag in the Parade of Flags
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are a collection of over 30 gardens each dedicated to a particular heritage. They feature busts, statues and monuments to their cultural icons. The Czech Cultural Garden was dedicated in 1935.
Paul Burik has been caretaker of the Czech Garden for over 20 years and he leads a virtual tour explaining the busts and monuments. Statues and busts include Antonin Dvorak, Karel Havlicek, Bedrich Smetana, Tomas Masaryk, Jindrich Simon Baar, Frantisek Palacky, Jan Amos Komesnky and a tribute to Czech Immigrants.
Watch the video tour.
Rusyn Cultural Garden at One World Day
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosted the 74th annual One World Day on August 25, 2019. Police estimates say that over 30,000 people visited the Gardens and attended One World Day. There was a lot of activity in the historic Rusyn Cultural Garden.
Anna Sophia Tombazzi first Rusyn crowned Miss Czech-Slovak Us National Queen
Anna Sophia Tombazzi became the first Rusyn crowned Miss Czech-Slovak Us National Queen 2019-2020.
Anna Sophia Tombazzi
Anna's maternal Rusyn lineage comes from her great-grandfather, Stephen Pusti from Šoma (now called Driencia) in Šaryš County near Prešov. Anna's great-grandmother, Anna Bittner Pusti was from Kamienka, in Spiš County. Both Anna's great-grandparents came to America in the early 1900's from present day eastern Slovakia. Born and raised in Ohio, Anna has been active in her Rusyn heritage from a young age. She donated (along with her older brother) money proceeds from a toy sale to an orphanage in eastern Slovakia, spoke on Rusyn Radio program based out of Pittsburgh, PA, acted as a family's little girl for the traditional Christmas Eve Velija play in Youngstown, OH. Anna has also played her violin for multiple Rusyn cultural events, been a volunteer at other festival events, like the Simply Slavic Festival in Youngstown, OH.
The knowledge for Anna's national title began when she was a member of the Cleveland, Ohio based Rusyn folk ensemble, Karpato-Rus' Ensemble in 2009. Anna was the lead violinist and a dancer. The ensemble was directed by her mother, Laurel Tombazzi. Paul Makousky, from the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society, informed Laurel about the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant. Noticing that the Pageant requires ladies starting at age 16 to compete, the Karpato-Rus' Ensemble had no female performers that were age 16 or older at this time.
In early 2015, Laurel Tombazzi was aware on the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant website that the nationalities of Czech, Silesian, Moravian and Slovak were on the Pageant application. Winning Queens are awarded the prize of going to either the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Since Rusyns live in eastern Slovakia, Laurel asked the Pageant Committee to add "Rusyn" to the application. (Rusyns live as a minority group in present day eastern Slovakia and do not have a land to call their own. They are eastern Slavs.) The committee happily agreed and asked Laurel to be one of three judges to select a Queen the same year.
(Photo credit Evening Blush Photography & Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant)
The annual three day Czech Days Festival has been going for 58 years in Wilber, NE drawing crowds of over 50,000 during the first weekend in August. The Pageant has taken place for the past 33 years and is part of the Czech Days Festival.
Czechoslovakia 100th anniversary celebration at Bohemian National Hall
2018 is the centennial year of the founding of the country of Czechoslovakia after World War I. This little country, formed out of a piece of the Austro-Hungarian empire became an example of people who had persevered for hundreds of years despite challenges to their very existence. Sokol Greater Cleveland and other organizations hosted a weekend full of events commemorating the centennial of the founding of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago at the Czech Cultural Center in Historic Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland Ohio.
Rusyn community at Czechoslovakia 100th celebration
Members of the Czech, Slovak and Rusyn communities gathered for music and dance, gymnastic demonstrations, special food and imported beers, tours of the historic building and museum, ethnic exhibits, children's activities and a gala a sit-down dinner on Sunday.
Czechoslovakia 100th and Prague Spring 50th anniversaries
2018 is a special year. Not only are we celebrating 100 years of the founding of Czechoslovakia, but also 50 years since Prague Spring - the loosening of the tight grip by the communist regime by Slovak Alexander Dubcek, that came to a sudden halt on August 20, 1968 when the country was invaded by Soviet forces.
To commemorate these anniversaries, a re-installation and a re-dedication of two plaques in the Czech Cultural Garden took place on Sunday, August 19, 2018. Paul Burik is a past-president of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation (CCGF) and is also the delegate for the Czech Cultural Garden. He was the driving force behind the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia as well as the 50 year anniversary of the Prague Spring. He also served as Master of Ceremonies.
Czechs, Slovaks, Rusins and representatives from other communities took part as well.
The Cleveland Rusyn community was out in full force at the 73rd annual One World Day on the site of the Albanian Cultural Garden. Members of the community marched in the annual Parade of Flags and later there was more fun as members of the Rusyn community shared their culture with thousands of visitors on One World Day.
Carpatho-Rusyn Day celebrated at Cleveland City Hall
On October 26, 2017 the Cleveland Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society celebrated Carpatho-Rusyn Day in North America by having the Rusyn flag flown over Cleveland City Hall for the entire day. A celebration was held in the evening in the Rotunda of City Hall.
Carpatho-Rusyn Day Banner in Cleveland City Hall Rotunda
Rusyns and friends gathered in the Rusin Cultural Garden on Sunday July 23, 2017 for a musical picnic.
The bust of Aleksander Duchnovic became the focal point as the picnic turned into a sing-along, dance and czardas lessons accompanied by the accordion music of Tom Katrenich.
Thanks to Paul Burik for the photos and report.
Carpatho-Rusyn Society Vatra
The Cleveland Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society sponsored a Vatra (outdoor festival) on Saturday, June 3, 2017 on the grounds of the Shrine of Mariapoch located on 17486 Mumford Road, Burton, Oh and just north of Route 422.
There was ethnic food, music, children's activities, genealogy information and help, C-RS items for sale and a Liturgy in Old Slavonic
The Rusyn Cultural Garden, Living Traditions Folk Ensemble and Rusyn community took part in the 71st One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens on August 28, 2016. They began with marching in the Parade of Flags. Throughout the day members of the Rusyn community of Cleveland hosted hundreds of visitors in the Rusyn Cultural Garden and shared Rusyn culture.
Later on One World Day, Living Traditions Folk Ensemble performed dances from Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine on the main stage
The week following PASCHA (Easter) is called "Bright Week" in the Eastern (Orthodox) Christian Church. During Bright Week there are many different ways to enjoy this "Feast of Feasts" - including the "Sprinkling Days"!
On Monday within some of the various nationalities who are Orthodox, the boys seek out the girls of their parishes to "sprinkle" them - usually with scented water - and on Tuesdays, the girls seek out the boys to do the same "sprinkling"
On this Tuesday Ukrainian Dozia Krislaty and Rusyn Laurel Tombazzi sprinkled Ken Kovach. Then Vietnamese Gia Hoa Ryan sprinkled him as well
10th Annual Carpatho-Rusyn Vatra
The 10th Annual Carpatho-Rusyn Vatra was produced by the Cleveland Chapter of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. The Vatra was held at Carpathian Hall at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma Ohio.
One of the entertainment highlights of the Vatra was the performance by the young men and ladies from the PIAST of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America in Cleveland who performed traditional Polish dances in costumes.
8th Annual Vatra - Dean Poloka, Director of Slavjane Folk Ensemble, Pittsburgh, Laurel Tombazzi, Mistress of Ceremonies and Director of Karpato-Rus' Ensemble, Cleveland, Cathy and Tom Katrenich, Directors of Living Traditions Folk Ensemble, Cleveland
Rusyn and community leaders at the Duchnovic statue
A bust of Aleksander Vasylovych Dukhnovych was installed in the Rusin Cultural Garden in Cleveland on November 30, 2011. Dukhnovych was a priest, poet, writer, pedagogue, and social activist of the Rusyn nation. Dukhnovych is regarded to be one of the outstanding Ruthenian humanists and educators.
John Krenisky and Marcia Benko from the Carpatho-Rusyn Society at the new bust of Dukhnovych
In the video below, the Living Traditions Folk Ensemble performs a Carpatho-Rusyn dance number from the SW corner of Ukraine. They are wearing costumes from the Zemplin region of Slovakia at the annual One World Day celebration in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
Organizations and Resources for Rusyns in Cleveland
Cleveland's Carpatho-Rusyn Folk Ensemble The Karpato-Rus’ Ensemble (KRE) was formed in August 2006. The purpose of the KRE is to promote the culture and values of the Carpatho-Rusyn religious and folk art traditions through dance, music and skits.
Karpato-Rus' Ensemble October 2008 Performance group
The Carpatho-Rusyn Society is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to manifesting Carpatho-Rusyn culture in the United States and supporting Rusyn culture in the Homeland in east central Europe. It works to educate Rusyns and non-Rusyns about Rusyn culture and history, and to support the development of Rusyn culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a membership organization, it boasts over 1,800 members worldwide who support the organization's work through their annual contributions of dues as well as voluntary contributions to funds that support Rusyn cultural development abroad as well as humanitarian aid for Rusyn communities in Europe.
Although this site clearly focuses on Carpatho-Rusyn genealogy, it is recognized that the ethnic background of persons from areas where Carpatho-Rusyns lived (primarily where Poland, Slovakia, the Ukraine, and Hungary adjoin or nearly adjoin) is often in doubt. Many other ethnic groups previously lived or now live in this area (Polish, Slovak, Hungarian, Ukrainian, German, Jewish, and others).
Understandably, many persons whose ancestors come from this area are unclear of their ethnic origins. Also, there was intermarriage between such groups before and after immigration. The focus at this web site is on information that may aid those interested in genealogy in tracing their ancestors, all or some of whom may have been Carpatho-Rusyns.
Carpatho-Rusyns have also been known as Rusyns, Rusins, Rusnaks, Ruthenes, Ruthenians, Carpatho-Russians, Carpatho-Ruthenians, Carpatho-Ukrainians and Lemkos.
Rusyn Cultural Garden in Cleveland
Cleveland Cultural Garden president Paul Burik gives a tour of the Rusyn Gardens and tells of plans for a new statue of Oleksandr (Aleksander) Dukhnovych known for his famous patriotic poem Ja Rusyn Byl, Jesm I Budo (I Was, Am, and Will Be a Rusyn)
Most Rusyn immigrants to United States came between 1880 and 1914, to places like New York City, Passaic, New Jersey, Bridgeport, Connecticut, the eastern Pennsylvania anthracite coal regions, Western Pennsylvania (especially Pittsburgh and Johnstown), Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit. Assimilation has been high and Rusyn American identity is frequently limited to the churches established by first-wave immigrants.
Today smaller numbers of Rusyns are coming from Slovakia, especially from villages like Litmanová and Jarabina, mostly to metro New York/New Jersey.
Tell us about the music, food, holidays, traditions, costumes, language and other qualities that make the Rusyns so special.
Profiles of Rusyns in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio
Bust of Aleksander Duchnovic in Rusyn Garden
Dukhnovych was a priest, poet, writer, pedagogue, and social activist of the Rusyn nation. Dukhnovych is regarded to be one of the outstanding Ruthenian humanists and educators.
In 1850 Dukhnovych established the first Ruthenian cultural association, the Prešov Literary Society. The society under his guidance published a series of books. His most famous patriotic poem Ja Rusyn byl, jesm i budu (I Was, Am, and Will Be a Ruthenian) was published as part of an anthology in 1851. This poem would later become the national anthem of Carpatho-Rusyns.
If you know of a Cleveland Rusyn who should be profiled, please let us know.
ClevelandPeople.Com - Rusyn Ambassadors
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Rusyn Community please contact us.