If you’re from most areas of the country outside of Western New York the idea of Dyngus Day may sound as foreign as Poland itself.
But in this region, the concept has only grown in the last few decades.
That was no more apparent than on Monday evening, when the heart of Dyngus Day was once again roaring at Lockport's bars with Polish heritage — Josie's Place on West Avenue and the Ski Lodge on Niagara Street.
The Ski Lodge was packed for what owner Rob Szpilewski calls "the best day of the year." The bar cooked up 30 pounds of kielbasa, and over 300 pierogi as well as 5 gallons of Polish chowder.
The corner bar has celebrated Dyngus Day since its opening 13 years ago with music, food and Polish beer, Tyskie, which Szpilewski says they have year-round. "That's the one Polish beer we have to have in stock."
In terms of longevity, however, the Ski Lodge has nothing on Josie's, which has been proudly Polish for 32 years, according to Diane Touhey, who owns the bar along with her brother Michael.
Touhey said she expected that by the end of business Monday she would have a couple hundred guests to come partake in the Polish delight, including their own buffet of pierogi, kielbasa and over 100 golumpki, which she preparing for on Saturday.
"It's a great day because I get to see people happy and enjoy themselves after 40 days of Lent," she said.
Whereas The Ski Lodge had a DJ, Josie's had karaoke.
Both places were filled to the brim with patrons who may not be Polish today, but they certainly are the Monday after Easter, year after year.
In both bar's cases, the owner's parents were born in the old country.
Of course, there's pockets of Poland all over Western New York, like the Dom Polski Social Club in North Tonawanda, where a few hundred locals once again celebrated Dyngus Day, which dates back to the 1800s in Poland.
In North Tonawanda, the festivity is as much about the country and its traditions as it is a reason to get together, while these days, many who attend the event had no ties to Polish roots.
Joe Zaccagnino, a truck driver from Clarence who is of Italian descent, said he recently came to Dom Polski for the cheap beer and left with an impression that caused him to seek membership, which he is in the process of undertaking.
“I like this place a lot,” he said. “It’s exciting, it’s different.”
Jack Wagner said Monday was the “sixth or seventh year” he’s visited Dom Polski on Dyngus Day, though he is German, not Polish.
“I like it because it’s close to home,” he said.
And Lucy Kowalski, of Wheatfield, who does have a Polish foundation, said she came with her family for the first time because of “my daddy.”
“I did this for him,” she said.
Whatever the reason or the ethnicity, those out celebrating Monday were there to have a good time.