Connecticut’s “Little Poland”

Connecticut is a state of nearly 3 million people. Among its residents nearly 50 major ethnic groups all living together in the Constitution state. In the city of New Britain, Connecticut there is a very strong Polish community made up of about 15,000 Poles. As with all ethnicities, it’s the rich traditions that are so important when living away from the Mother countries, and that has truly been established here.

In the video below there are four Poles who talk about how important it is to carry on those traditions. I talked to some of the folks in the Roly Poly Polish Bakery where you will find countless Polish goodies. Breads, meats, beer, cheese, you name it, if it’s Polish it’s in this store. The store doesn’t have a web site, it doesn’t need one that’s how famous it is, you can barely get in the parking lot.

Stefan Szafarek talks about going door-to-door when first moving to Connecticut from Poland to try and get to know his new neighbors, fast forward he has established  Forward International Tours http://www.goforwardpoland.com It is a tourism company and he takes small groups of tourists back to his native Poland off the beaten trail to really see the country.

Polish Police Officer Richard Kisluk, finds it very important to uphold Polish traditions. Kisluk’s parents who came to America from the home country, passed on a strong work ethic, he has since passed that onto his children, he says it’s important to work hard to get ahead in the world, all immigrants understand this.

Maggie Slysz’s parents were born in Poland, and she speaks the language fluently even though she was born in Connecticut because her parents instilled the language as important in her life. She is a former Miss Polonia (Poland). Her parents took her back to their native Poland as a child so she understands the pride her parents feel for their country and now she carries that with her as she goes forward in her life.

Ela Konferowicz and her husband, Rob, came to Connecticut twenty years ago at age 22 with 200 dollars in their pocket. They stayed in the Nutmeg stage and have now opened up a restaurant on the famed Polish Broad Street in New Britain called “Belevedere.”  They have put everything they have into their Polish restaurant with the hope that it flourishes and grows and helps keep the largest Polish community in the state together.

There are all kinds of Polish businesses on Broad Street to explore and banks and clubs, go and see for yourself. Do you have stories to share here about growing up Polish in Connecticut?

Enjoy the video, it was shot and edited by PGaryn Productions based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

14 Comments

  1. Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Loved this!! With a maiden name of Federowicz—-I grew up in Bridgeport, attended Polish school–St. Michael’s. Just made dozens of Pierogis for Christmas, make my own Polish sausage, Kielbasa, and more!
    Been to Poland three times and we took our adult children to experience thier heritage first hand!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Mary Louise, thanks for reading, this story was so much fun!

  2. Valerie Morrell
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Love this, Ann. My Mom is 100% Polish, her parents immigrated from Warsaw. I was so proud of her, when after my Dad passed away, she took a trip to see her native country. Can’t wait to share this clip with her. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Ann Nyberg
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Valerie, hi! There is something so rich about a country’s traditions, I’d like to adopt them all. Thanks for sharing the piece.

  4. Sara O'Leary
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Ann, What a wonderful tribute to the polish culture! You captured it amazingly well. I love to see how great this website is coming along! Keep up the great work!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      Sara, we had a great time with this, I know you were having fun in the sun!

  5. David Goclowski
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Nice job Ann, I have had the pleasure to re-connect last summer through the Polish American Happy Hour that meets monthly at various business’s within the Polish Community. It is very heart warming to me that so many young Polish-American Adults embrace their heritage, Maggie the young lady you spoke with during your story is one of those so many great young adults within the community. The art that is displayed at the Belevidere Cafe is done by a local young Polish artist Chris Figat.

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      David, thanks for reading, I love that art in The Belevedere, what a wonderful community.

  6. joe s
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Happy New Year, Ann! Very nice post on the New Britain Polish community. Excellent shooting and editing on the video. Do you have staffers on the blog now? Well done.

  7. Ann Nyberg
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Joe, thanks so much. This was shot and edited by http://www.pgarynproductions.com/

  8. Posted January 24, 2012 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Lovely video! Great job at capturing the cultural aesthetics of New Britski!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted January 24, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Hayley, Thanks for reading the blog and for your kind words.

  9. Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Very nice description! We will use it as a reference in Nowy Dziennik, Polish Daily News.
    Thank you very much!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted August 8, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for reading this all the way from Poland, would love to have it published there!

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