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Planting for plenitude of pussy willows

Two years ago, a paucity of pussy willows threatened to put the kibosh on Buffalo's annual Dyngus Day celebration.

Remember? Frigid weather delayed the budding process, raising the possibility that there wouldn't be enough locally grown switches for girls to swat boys with during the flirting ritual that highlights the traditional Polish day-after-Easter observance. Branches were imported from great distances to meet the surging demand.

Vowing to nip future shortages in the bud, Dyngus Day Buffalo organizers gathered Saturday near Central Terminal to plant five bushes in what was christened Pussy Willow Park.

The first branches should be ready for harvest a year from now, in time for the 50th anniversary Dyngus Day celebration, said Martin Biniasz, Dyngus Day Buffalo founder.

"Planting these bushes in our own park will assure that future generations have an adequate supply of pussy willows," Biniasz said. "We envision that by 2011 the bushes will produce some of the finest twigs in town."

The park, on property owned by Central Terminal Restoration Corp. adjacent to the former New York Central Railroad tower, will be the hub of next Monday's expanded 49th Dyngus Day activities.

Located on the grassy patch at the end of the parade route through the city's Polish section will be the Dyngus Day Party Tent and an information booth about various venues. The Park will also be the main transfer station for three of four shuttle routes used by partyers, many of whom come from other cities to sample Buffalo's Polish food, beer, vodka and music.

As usual, the parade will step off from Clark Street after a blessing at Corpus Christi Catholic Church and wind past Broadway Market and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church before ending at the Memorial Drive terminal. More than 75 units are expected to follow the route.

A new reviewing stand will be located near Pussy Willow Park. Live parade coverage will begin at 5 p.m. on WXRL 1300 AM and live streaming video also will be available at BroadwayFillmoreAlive.com.

Prizes will be awarded in several categories, including one for the float that best represents Buffalo's claim to be Dyngus Day Capital of the World.

The celebration will include such new features as Doors Open Dyngus, with self-guided tours and special events at several of Polonia's architectural, historical and religious buildings, including Corpus Christi, St. Stan's, Central Terminal and Broadway Market, and an alcohol-free cafe in the Polish Army Veterans Hall, 617 Fillmore Ave.
Polka-flavored entertainment will be provided by Those Idiots, The Kielbasa Kings featuring LeeRon Zydeco and DJ Kishka from Cleveland.

Pussy Willow Park may receive more bushes in the future as organizers work toward their dream of making Dyngus Day a world-class festival, Biniasz said.

The plantings were supplied by Petals and Pines Nursery, Gardenville.

e-mail: tbuckham@buffnews.com

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