Poland Visits Chicago at Navy Pier’s 6th Annual “Neighborhoods of the World”

Every year since 2010 Navy Pier has hosted weekly celebrations of different cultures in its Crystal Gardens between February and April. The celebrations focus on cultures that are represented within Chicago land neighborhoods. On April 10th, Poland took center stage at the Crystal Gardens.

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Dancers from “Whispers Center for Artistic Expression” open the show. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Navy Pier is typically what Chicagoans call a “tourist trap” and it is rare to find locals milling around, but not for this event. Neighborhoods of the World attracts just as many locals as tourists, especially since many of the performers are the children of locals who are looking to preserve their heritage.

“I definitely think locals enjoy it as much as the tourists,” said Porscha Cutright, a guest services representative at Navy Pier. “It’s about preserving the local cultures of Chicago, so I think that’s why it’s important…”

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More young dancers from “Whispers” perform a traditional dance from the Silesia region of Poland. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Since this is a free event there is bound to be a crowd. The event began at noon and was absolutely packed, arriving early is the only way to ensure a good seat as they will be filled with relatives of the performers and world-culture enthusiasts long before the show begins.

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“Whispers” dancers making their adorable exit from the stage. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Neighborhoods of the World is not only about performances from the featured country but also about the food, art, and decorative trinkets that the culture has to offer…

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One of the many vendors at the event, selling handmade crafts and decorations from Poland. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

There is no shortage of vendors and booths at this event. Many of the booths were directly correlated to the featured country, such as those selling polish decorations or tea. However, some are simply there to take up space.

For example: booths for car shops, in-home nurses, travel agencies, etc.

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Polish cheese samples being doled out to those who didn’t mind the long line. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Of course no cultural event would be complete without food. There were several local Polish restaurant giving free samples at the event, and the Crystal Gardens cafe was selling sauerkraut and kielbasa sausage plates for a mere $5, along with their full selections of drinks.

This event attracts many passionate and culturally fascinating people to Navy Pier. The next and final country to be featured, in 2016, is India on April 17 at 12 p.m. The 2017 series begins in February 2017.

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