Pulaski Day Parade In Buffalo

July 17, 2011 Updated Jul 17, 2011 at 8:17 PM EDT

By WKBW News

July 17, 2011 Updated Jul 17, 2011 at 8:17 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - The annual Pulaski Day Parade kicks off Sunday at 1:30p.m. in Cheektowaga, to celebrate Polish American Heritage. The event starts at the Thruway Plaza on Walden Avenue, going west to Harlem Road and north to Cheektowaga Town Park.

The Western New York area is reported to have the second highest number of people of Polish / American descent in the United States next to Chicagoland.

The Grand Marshall of the parade is Stanley Pulaski Sr., a member of St. Bernard Catholic Church for 32 years, Pulaski is a direct descendant of Gen. Casimir Pulaski.

ClassicBuffalo.com offers some history into why this celebration of Polish American history is important:

Poland's connection with Buffalo started back with the Holland Land Company. A partner named Peter Stadnicki had a street named after him, Stadnicki Street, which today is called Church Street. Settlers began arriving mid 19th century. The Pol-Ams community flourished and developed when St. Stanislaus Church was founded. The city of Buffalo and WNY today has a distinct Polish flavor.

"I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it," wrote Casimir Pulaski to George Washington in a letter in which he offered his military services to America during the Revolutionary War. He proved true to his word. At age 32, his heroic death at the Battle of Savannah on October 11, 1779 was received with sorrow across the land. General Pulaski's life represents the dedication of countless Americans of Polish and other ethnic origin to the principles of personal liberty and independence, which have always defined the spirit of the United States of America.

Born into a wealthy family in Poland in 1747, Pulaski, as a young man, fought for freedom from Russia in his homeland until 1771, when he was exiled to France. In Paris he met American envoy Benjamin Franklin, who influenced him to help Americans fight for their independence. Washington was so impressed with Pulaski's abilities during the Battle of Brandywine Creek that he recommended the Continental Congress appoint Pulaski as general of the American cavalry. In 1778, Pulaski organized an independent corps of cavalry and light infantry known as the Pulaski Legion. It is reported that he spent $50,000 of his own money to help train and equip his troops.

Since the 1930s, Pulaski's legacy has been celebrated in an annual Pulaski Day Parade and wreath-laying ceremony in Buffalo, New York. The October parade is organized by the General Pulaski Association of Western New York, which was founded to preserve the memory and the legacy of one of America's greatest Revolutionary heroes.