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Polish carol song fest set

December 22, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

STEUBENVILLE - The annual Polish Christmas carol song fest is set for Wednesday at Holy Family Catholic Church.

Mark Michalik is the organizer of the event that will bring Tom Zielinsky back to play the concerto accordion for the hour-long event.

Michalik has brought former and current residents of the Polish Hill neighborhood together every summer for a reunion.

"We started the Polish carol singing a few years ago. We grew up singing and listening to the traditional Polish Christmas carols, and we thought it would be a great idea to come together during the Christmas season to sing and hear the old traditional carols sung in Polish," explained Michalik.

The Polish Christmas carol program is set to begin at 3 p.m. at the church.

Zielinsky grew up in New Cumberland, "where the family would gather around the table and sing the traditional Polish Christmas carols. I didn't always understand all the words but it was a great tradition," said Zielinsky.

"There were a number of people who would sing the songs in Polish when I was a child. Now I belong to Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church, which is the traditional Polish parish in Weirton. We organize a polka Mass twice a year at the church, usually the Sunday before the Lenten season starts and at our parish picnic and it is received very well. Performing at Holy Family Catholic Church reminds me of Christmas Eve as a child," said Zielinski.

"I play an electronic accordion to provide the music and enjoy hearing the traditional songs sung by the congregation. "I have been playing the accordion since I was 9 years old. It is fun to be a part of this and to remember growing up with these songs," remarked Zielinski.

"I play a Midi accordion that allows me to add different instruments to the music. And I will be accompanied by the church organist who also plays and sings Polish songs, so it will be a fun and moving event. This is a tradition of the Catholic church as well as a Polish tradition. We will be singing the old fashioned Polish Christmas carols as well as a few traditional American carols. And I do take a few requests," stated Zielinsky.

"The number of people who are familiar with the Polish songs is getting smaller. But it is fun to come together to hear the songs the way we heard them when we were kids. I can only remember the Polish words to about three or four of the carols but I enjoy hearing the songs again," noted Michalik.

The Polish Christmas carol event is open to the public.

"I also enjoy watching the people who remember all of the words maintaining the Polish tradition. This is important to our heritage and our religion," said Michalik.

"Anyone who enjoys the traditional Polish carols or who wants to learn more about the Polish tradition should come to Holy Family Church. I have 14 Polish carols I will be playing," noted Zielinsky.

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