POLISH CONSTITUTION DAY IN CHICAGO The Polish Constitution of May 3rd, 1791 has been commemorated every year in Chicago since 1891. The Polish National Alliance took the initiative and ever since that time there is a parade which lasts several hours. At first the parade was downtown but in 1910 when the General Thaddeus Kosciuszko monument was erected in Humboldt Park the parade proceeded along Division Street to the park on the first Sunday of May.
This celebration has brought the meaning of the Polish Constitution to the people of the city of Chicago and pride to the Polish community. Since Chicago is the home of the headquarters of the PNA, it tries to make the May 3rd celebration one of the biggest holidays of the year by informing the public about the Polish heritage and the accomplishments of the Polish heroes.

When the Kosciuszko monument was moved to Grant Park to a more beautiful place next to the entrance to the Planetarium, the parades were again moved downtown. There is always a wreath laying ceremony by the monument on the actual day of May 3rd.

The parade itself takes place on the first Saturday in May and generally lasts two hours. The general chairman of the parade is the vice-president of the PNA, who has made it one of the best parades in the city. In the past, following the parade there was a program where important national figures would address the people who gathered for the parade. In the past years, the format was changed due to the fact that many participants of the parade found themselves such a long distance from the reviewing stand that they did not participate in the rest of the program. The organizers felt that a proper way of commemorating such a solemn occasion was to have a banquet in the evening, whereby the main speaker could deliver a really meaningful address and have the attention of all those in attendance.

The following day, on Sunday there is a Mass at Holy Trinity Church as it is the Polish custom to give thanks and pray on behalf of all members of the PNA for a free and independent Poland.

Now, the parade is televised and there are always numerous pictures and articles in the newspapers, as well as announcements on the radio. All this re-awakens the city to the existence of Poles in the community and draws special attention to their culture and history.


“On Saturday, May 2, 1891, the PNA sponsored a spirited parade through Chicago’s near northside Polonia that culminated at the city’s Central Music Hall. There, Zbigniew Brodowski, John Smulski, Frank Gryglaszewski and Casimir Zychlinski delivered remarks on behalf of the Alliance, Teofilia Samolinska contributed a reading of her poetry and several patriotic choral groups provided musical entertainment.
The event also included speeches by several local non-Polish politicians and civic leaders. They in turn praised the inextinguishable Polish spirit , compared the Poles’ aspirations for independence with those of the Irish, and expressed the hope that by 1991 tyranny would be eliminated throughout the world.

The event concluded with the showing of a series of blown-up slides “magically” projected onto the wall: pictures depicted personages and events in the Polish-American history. All in all, its planners considered the 1891 Constitution day observances a great success and in 1904 the event was repeated, one which continues to this day under PNA sponsorship”

(From “PNA: A Centennial History of the Polish National Alliance of N. America”)

The parade took place on Saturday, May 7th. It begun on the cross-section of Wacker Drive and State Street at 12 Noon and marched south on State Street to Van Buren St.. Immediately after the parade, the attendants gathered at Richard Daley Center Plaza for an additional patriotic program.

The main speaker of the parade was Senator Adlai E. Stevenson, an Illinois Democrat.William C. Scottt, and Michal Bilandic, Mayor of the City of Chicago also spoke to the Polish community. Bishop Alfred Abramowicz made the invocation and Bishop Francis Rowinski performed the benediction. Mrs. Helena Szymanowicz, the president of the parade, led the opening ceremonies and Bruno Zielinski, a former congressman, narrated the parade. Roman Pucinski was the Honorary Marshall of the parade and Ted Fijalkowski was the Grand Marshall.

The parade was extremely patriotic and spirited, with about 10,000 Participants. It was especially significant, given the fact that such celebrations were still prohibited in Poland.


more pictures....

[May 3rd Constitution EN] [May 3rd Constitution PL] [Before the Constitution]
[The era of reform] [The aftermath] [Cultural Surroundings] [Music] [Poetry]
[Senators] [Deputies] [Chicago Tradition] [Links] [Credits] [E-mail]