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Grab your water guns and pussy willows: Dyngus Day is coming to WNY

Polish pride will be celebrated during the 11th annual Dyngus Day Parade and other, day-long festivities on April 17, the day after Easter.

The parade, which will start at 5 p.m. began with around 1,000 attendees and has grown to about 30,000 people, with thousands more attending other festivities, said Eddy Dobosiewicz, president of the company that organizes the event.

More than 150 groups will be marching in the parade or with a float, he said, including participants from around Western New York and outside New York State.

"It's not just a Polish festival anymore," Dobosiewicz said. "It is a celebration of Western New York."

[PHOTOS: Smiles at Dyngus Day 2016]

Can one have too many pussy willows? (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Some venues will start as early as 8 a.m. for the all-day affair that ends at 11 p.m. The hub is in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, but concentrations of activity are also expected in the eastern suburbs of Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Depew. Free shuttles will transport people between the approximately 25 venues taking part.

Brave Combo, a punk-polka band from Denton, Texas, once featured on "The Simpsons," will be the musical headliner. The band will be performing in a tent on Memorial Drive, which for the day is being called "Pussy Willow Park."

Admission to Dyngus Day will be $10, plus $2 per venue. A shuttle bus will ferry people to various sites.

[More photos: Smiles inside the Adam Mickiewicz Library on Dyngus Day]

Dobosiewicz said busloads of people are expected from around the country, including Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio and southern Ontario.

At Dobosiewicz's instigation, a Dyngus Day celebration is also being held in Rszeszow, the biggest city in southeastern Poland, and will be viewed by satellite transmission.

"Dyngus Day is a minor observance in Rszeszow," said Dobosiewicz, who spent three weeks there last summer. "Most people consider it an annoyance, like April Fool's Day, with guys throwing water on unsuspecting girls.

"Here, we get into springtime revelry and the end of winter, and this whole courtship ritual with the pussy willows and the splashing of the water," Dobosiewicz said, noting the celebration dates back to pagan rituals later adopted by Christianity.

Squirt guns are another common sight at Buffalo's Dyngus Day celebration. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo)

[PHOTOS: Derek Gee's gallery from a wet Dyngus Day 2016]

In a separate event that is not part of the official Dyngus Day celebration, the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. will host festivities at 5 p.m. at the former train station at 495 Paderewski Drive. The event has a separate admission of $15, including parking, and will be limited to 3,000 tickets.

"We're looking forward to reviving what was a long-standing tradition at the terminal," said John Jiloty, a member of the restoration group.

The Central Terminal, one of two sites being considered as a home for a new Buffalo train station, will offer Polish food provided by Potts Deli, with entertainment from Those Idiots.

'Fact or Fiction?': Dyngus Day edition

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