ELKHART — Hundreds of people gathered at the Elkhart Columbus Club on Monday for Dyngus Day, the traditional Polish holiday that falls the day after Easter.

The celebration comes with pirogi, kielbasa and cabbage, in addition to as many local political candidates as might ever gather in the same room at the same time.

“It gives the public, people that come here, a chance to meet the candidates one-on-one. So you have both Democrats and Republicans here, going around,” said Elkhart historian Paul Thomas.

Knights of Columbus in Elkhart has celebrated Dyngus Day for over three decades, despite Elkhart not having the kind of Polish population as, say, South Bend.

“I was at the first one, and it was very few people,” Thomas said. “But it’s grown and grown. It’s quite an asset that the Knights of Columbus does this.”

Candidates for mayor, City Council and city clerk had spread campaign literature and posters on tables, walls and windows and were busy talking to as many in attendance as possible.

“I don’t know if it changes anybody’s votes or not, but it’s just a good get-together after Easter, and as I look around I just see a lot of mixed Democrat and Republican,” Thomas said.

Also at the Knights of Columbus event, scheduled to run from 10 a.m. through 8 p.m., were members of the Elkhart Police Department, having a bite, talking to community members and giving high fives to children.

“For us it’s just a great opportunity to come out, you get to see all the candidates that are here, you get to meet all the different people, and again, another opportunity for us to interact with the community,” Chief of Police Chris Snyder said. 

Snyder and several of his colleagues stopped by the Columbus Club for lunch, when the people serving traditional Polish food were particularly busy.

“Look at the turnout we have here for Elkhart at lunch,” Snyder said. “It’s a great tradition that we’ve had here for a long time.”

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

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