NEW BRITAIN – In a first for the city and the state, Polish President Andrzej Duda will be coming to New Britain on Sunday, Sept. 22.
Mayor Erin Stewart confirmed the news on Twitter that Duda and his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda, will visit the city that is home to thousands of Polish-Americans, the Little Poland section of the city and the churches, businesses and organizations that serve the Polish community and celebrate the Polish culture.
“This will be a tremendous event not just for our city or our Polish community, it’s a historic event for Connecticut,” Darek Barcikowski, Connecticut’s Honorary Polish Consul, said.
The visit is being hosted by Consul General of the Republic of New York and the Honorary Polish Consul of Poland in Connecticut.
The president and his wife will attend a 1 p.m. Mass at Holy Cross Church on Biruta Street.
They will then travel to Walnut Hill Park for a meet-and-greet session at 3 p.m.
Both of these events are open to the public, but in order to attend the meet and greet, residents must fill out the online form at https://presidentdudact.com/.
More details about access, parking, and other information will be released in the coming days.
The president is coming to the country for the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The president usually visits some Polish communities, but these visits are almost always limited to New York.
“We worked very hard to make this happen,” Barcikowski said.
Lucian Pawlak, former mayor and prominent leader in the Polish community praised Barcikowski for his efforts to make this happen.
“People don’t realize how much work goes into this,” Pawlak said.
According to Pawlak, discussions to initiate the visit began about three months ago, and Barcikowski worked tirelessly to convince the president to make the visit.
“We have such a tremendous Polish community, and the president is coming to acknowledge the work they do,” Barcikowski said.
Barcikowski went on to say that Connecticut’s relationship with Poland is not limited to New Britain.
Poland houses factories for Connecticut aerospace companies, universities in the state have programs that work within Poland and there are several cultural groups in the state that take trips to Poland, Barcikowski said.
Barcikowski has been working closely with the New Britain Police Department and the mayor’s office to make sure the city is ready for the visit.
“As a city with a connection to Poland dating back more than 150 years, we are honored to welcome President Andrzej Duda,” Stewart said. “This historic visit will be an opportunity to showcase the amazing Polish community we have right here in our city, as well as a time to rally around building strong relations between the United States and Poland.”
Charles Paullin contributed to this story.