Anderson Cooper Reacts to Dyngus Day
Here, TV’s Anderson Cooper learns about the “traditions” of Dyngus Day, which Buffalo is very proud to host every year. Cooper’s reaction is quite appropriate, all things considered. It’s an odd celebration, because for all intents and purposes Buffalo’s East Side Polonia has been reduced to almost nothing in the past few decades. Once a year – around Eastertime – Buffalo’s Polish diaspora converges on its old neighborhood to celebrate a community that’s left, and a heritage that has been diluted. It’s always that way with immigrant communities – time brings assimilation and old traditions become excuses to binge drink in abandoned buildings.
Consider why Buffalo hosts its Italian festival on Hertel Avenue, and not on Grant Street, where the Italian immigrants largely lived during the first half of the last century.
The Dyngus Day festivities and their ancillary events take place in what is now a very poor neighborhood with little hope and less opportunity. There are myriad non-profits, volunteers, and caring people who work tirelessly and with little or no remuneration to try to make life better for those neighborhoods and their residents. I don’t know how you turn blight around when there are no jobs to be had, but it seems to me that the annual drink-fest taking place in a neighborhood that Buffalo’s Polish community has abandoned seems disturbingly superficial and crass, given the human suffering that happens there during the remaining 364 days of the year.