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Submitted by Sebastian Szczepanski / Polish Times

The Polish National Alliance (PNA) Council 54 celebrated its 100th anniversary Saturday, September 14, at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, MI.  The gala brought together the current and past leaders of the organization, the national officers of PNA, as well as representatives of local PNA Councils, Lodges and other Polish American organizations.

Patricia A. Sikora, the chairperson of the anniversary gala, had an honor of welcoming guests and to introduce the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Bethany Stawasz. The presentation of Colors (by members of the Polanie Song & Dance Ensemble), singing of Polish and American national anthems (by Krysia Wall¹g and Benjamin Timpf) and the Polish National Alliance hymn followed.

Before the dinner a cultural program by Polanie Song & Dance Ensemble was presented. The ensemble entertained guests with two Polish national dances, Polonez and Mazur, and Krysia Wall¹g sung a beautiful, patriotic Polish song “Kraj Rodzinny”.

After dinner, the current officers of PNA Council 54 (including President Robert Karwan) gathered by a special birthday torte not only to pose for pictures, but, by cutting the first piece of the torte, symbolically start the second 100 years of the Council 54.

The main keynote/birthday speaker for the evening was the National President of PNA, Frank Spula.  He congratulated Council 54 for reaching a milestone and wished many more successes in the future.  Besides Frank Spula, other national leaders of PNA were present at the gala, namely Vice Presidents Paul Odrobina and Teresa Abick.

A special Tribute to Council 54 prepared by Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley was read later by Anna Bieciuk, representing the office of Michigan Governor (additionally, a special congratulatory letter from Governor Rick Snyder was printed in the beautifully published program book).

A special presentation honoring past leaders of Council 54 followed.  Award badges were presented to Teresa Abick (first woman-President of Council 54 in 2009), Michael Ygeal, Joan Baritche (longest serving woman-President of Council 54; for 15 years), John Lacroix (President of Council 54 from 2008-2010), Elaine Kozub, Christine Kryszko, David Rekuc, Ron Martin, Barbara Martin.

Additionally, a special award went to 100-year old Celia Kwiatkowski, who has been a member of PNA since 1937 (for over 75 years!).  Also, Hon. John Dingell (who joined PNA in 1953) was awarded as America’s longest serving Congressman (he was not able to attend the gala, but his heartwarming congratulatory letter was printed in the program book).

The banquet part of the evening concluded with a short speech from the current Council 54 President, Robert Karwan.  He thanked for the continued support of the Council 54 and wished many more successful years.

The rest of the evening was devoted to partying. “Rytm” band provided excellent selection of dancing tunes; guests danced, mingled, took photographs, and enjoyed each other camaraderie.

The Polish National Alliance is the largest and one of the oldest Polish fraternal organizations in the United States. It was founded in 1880 in Philadelphia. In 1913, at the XX Quadrennial National Convention, held at the Dom Polski hall on Forest Ave., on the eastside of Detroit, a system of Councils was officially established. The 15 Lodges on the west side of Detroit and the downriver area were assigned the numerical number 54. Thus was the birth of Council 54.

Congratulations to PNA Council 54 on reaching this impressive milestone!