NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Britain leads Connecticut as the city with the most Poles as residents. That’s why so many New Britain-ers can’t wait to witness history this weekend when the President of Poland makes a state visit to their city.
20,000 Polish-Americans live in New Britain, so many that the downtown area is known as “Little Poland“. Located on Broad Street, “Little Poland” is home to many restaurants, bakeries, and shops run by Polish descendants. Residents are able to purchase authentic food and imported items as part of a cultural tradition.
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“I think this is wonderful news,” Robert Iwanicki, a proud Polish New Britain resident, said. “We wait for him. He is a so popular man.”
On Sunday, September 22, Polish President, Andrzej Duda, alongside his wife, Mrs. Agata Kornhauser-Duda will be visiting New Britain.
It’ll be the first visit ever by a Polish Head-of-State to Connecticut.
News 8 spoke with Dareck Barcikowski, The Honorary Consul of The Republic of Poland. He lobbied for years to make this visit happen, explaining to officials at the Polish embassies in New York and Washington why New Britain was worthy of making history.
“We’ve had a number of different folks in places proposing that this would be a great, great idea and that the community here really deserves this kind of acknowledgment and recognition,” Barcikowski said.
The main public event for the Polish president is Sunday at 3 p.m. He’ll deliver a speech at Walnut Hill Park.
Pre-registration required in order to attend the event by filling out a form at this location.
Barcikowski says such a high-level visit warrants pre-registration and because of the high-level security operation now in place. “Strictly for security concerns,” Barcikowski said. “We need to be aware who is coming.”
He says so far, 5,000 people have pre-registered and they’re prepared to handle 5,000 more. So, the maximum expected crowd is 10,000 people.
Before the speech, President Duda will be at a 1p.m. mass at Holy Cross Church.
There is no pre-registration required for that, but attendees for both events are asked to get there early — at least a half hour ahead of time.
The President of the Polonia Business Association, who makes it his mission to promote ‘Little Poland’, says this visit will bring more visibility to Broad Street.
He hopes it instills an even greater sense of pride there and he hopes it pays off for Connecticut in terms of future business deals with Poland. “Poland’s been doing a lot of investment in technology in the United States so we’re hoping Connecticut is going to be on the forefront of maybe some future investments,” Baron said.