BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo is known as America’s capital for Dyngus Day, and many Western New Yorkers are getting pussywillows and squirt guns ready for the celebrations.

“It’s a reverse Mardi Gras,” Eddy Dobosiewicz, President of Dyngus Day Buffalo, said. “Dyngus day is the celebration the day Lent ends.”

Dyngus Day is a Polish-American holiday, which always falls the day after Easter. The tradition of celebrating the end of Lent and the joy of Easter is met with quirky traditions. Dobosiewicz called the celebration a “reawakening” and a “state of mind.”

According to him, the celebration grew here in Buffalo, when a private social club, Chopins Singing Society, wanted to increase memberships in 1961. They would hold themed parties every month, including one month where they held a Dyngus Day party — which became so popular that surrounding places also held Dyngus Day parties, and the celebration grew from there.

Eventually, the club left the East Side, and according to Dobosiewicz, the celebrations felt old-fashioned and lost their appeal over the years. In 2007, they decided to bring a parade celebrating Dyngus Day, to the neighborhood.

“We started a parade to shine some light on this neighborhood, because this neighborhood was deteriorating rapidly,” Dobosiwewicz said. “Eventually, (the parade) grew to the proportions that it does today and today we have thousands and thousands of people come in, not just from Western New York, but from all over the world to celebrate Dyngus Day here in Buffalo.”

With nice weather forecasted for Dyngus Day this year, Dobosiewicz said they could possibly see 100,000 people coming out and celebrating this annual tradition. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of Memorial and Peckham.

“I can’t think of a better time to celebrate Dyngus Day than this moment right now in human history because, really, the entire world is experiencing a reawakening,” said Dobosiewicz. “So now I think it’s time for the entire world to realize what we in Buffalo have known for a very long time, that ‘Dyngus’ is not just a day — it’s a state of mind.”

And as far as tradition goes, if you’re wondering how pussywillows and water to splash on people came into the mix, Dobosiewicz said the pussywillows signify the first buds of spring, and the water represents life, baptism, and cleansing.

A majority of the Dyngus Day festivities start at noon, and the parade in Historic Polonia starts at 5:30pm.

At noon, the celebration starts at the mother church of the area, St. Stanislaus, which is partnering with Chopins Singing Society, the organization that started these festivities, to hold the first event they’ve held in more than 30 years. They will be handing an award to Judge Anne Mikoll, who helped make Buffalo the Dyngus Day capital of the world.

To find the full list of Dyngus Day events, visit Dyngus Day Buffalo’s website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.