BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The day after Easter is one filled with celebration, food and music. The annual Dyngus Day Parade took to the streets of the Historic Polonia District of Buffalo.

Thousands of parade-goers lined Broadway wearing red and with pussy willows in hand. It was all in an effort to celebrate the end of the Lenten Season and honor Polish culture, which has deep roots on Buffalo’s East Side.

“It’s just joyous. We love to gather. We love to have fun. We love music. We love to dance and we love each other,” Gloria Sadowski, who was born and raised in Historic Polonia, told News 4.

Broadway was not dark Monday afternoon, rather it was full of sunshine and people ready to gather for Dyngus Day. Quite the opposite of the Goo Goo Dolls famous song about the road that cuts through the heart of the East Side. The day honors the Polish community, which Buffalo Common Councilman Mitch Nowakowski, who represents the Fillmore District, says is a celebration of the city’s heritage.

“We are extremely unique. We like any reason to get together and have fun, but especially to celebrate our heritage and who we are and where we come from and Dyngus Day is a big part of that,” Nowakowski said.

The parade always falls on the Monday after Easter, marking the end of the Lenten Season and the harsh winter. Eddy Dobosiewicz is the president of Dyngus Day Buffalo and says Polish immigrants began settling in the Broadway-Fillmore area in the 1870s. The colony quickly became one of the biggest in the country. Monday’s festivities are to pay tribute to that history.

“To bring it into this neighborhood, we were really just trying to shine a light on this neighborhood to preserve it, reinvent it, and to let people know the significance of Western New York’s Polonia, not just to Western New York, but to the entire world,” Dobosiewicz added.

People traveled from near and far from the parade, some even coming across state lines. Others say they were born and raised in the district and cannot believe how much the festival has grown.

“We come every year. We don’t miss a parade. We’re at the Irish parade. We’re at this parade. We’re Polish today. Once a year I’m Polish,” Tom McDonald of Buffalo said.

“It’s pretty special. The community is fabulous. The music, the culture, it’s definitely worth the short drive,” Mike Benedict of Erie, Pa said.

“At one time it was maybe one or two parties in one or two bars, and the whole thing just exploded. It’s awesome to see all the people here and the best part is to see all the young people here because they are really going to be the ones to carry this into the future. It’s really heartening,” Sadowski concluded.

Most parade goers say if you haven’t been to the parade, you should come out to experience it for yourself. They say it is a unique experience, unlike anything Western New York has to offer.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.