Over 2,500 Celebrated Ukraine’s Independence Day at the Ukrainian America Sport Center – Tryzubivka
Sun., Aug. 23, Horsham, PA - The Ukrainian and American flags danced in the high blue skies, brilliant sunshine and mild breezes of a delightful picture perfect summer afternoon at the Ukrainian American Sport Center-Tryzubivka. The intense, varied and complex thoughts, prayers and emotions of the gathering crowd were palpable.
Nearly all Ukrainians, haling directly or through their ancestry from all regions of Ukraine, demonstrated solidarity with their homeland and her people through their clothing and accessories: Beautiful embroideries and folk costumes, flags, tryzubs, Ukrainian national team sport jerseys and our beautiful language affirmed the presence of Ukraine’s immortal and immutable spirit in the festival glade, well before the concert had even started. They came, of course, to celebrate Ukraine’s independence and the liberating force of the Maidan freedom movement. But they also came to pray, to find communal solace and to mourn and to honor the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters for the sake of our beloved ancestral homeland’s freedom.
Representatives of other nations, once also captives of the Soviet empire, were present; their national symbols and language were lovely accent pieces to the Ukrainian imagery. Many other non-Ukrainians attended and come to know and to experience the brilliant nature of a people that, with the will, self-sacrifice and moral courage of free men and women, dares to defy Putin and his formidable arsenal of soldiers, arms and weapons of mass destruction.
Tryzub’s President, Danylo Nysch, greeted the audience and introduced this writer as the concert’s master of ceremonies. Between the US and Ukrainian National anthem’s, the MC declared that the day will celebrate freedom and independence, but urged the audience never to forget the sacrifices that precipitated for us our God-given rights: Ukraine stands as a living example how timeless and demanding the struggle for liberty, justice, equality and dignity always was, is and will be.
After a moment of silence, the MC called all to prayer, as the Prometheus Ukrainian Male Chorus sang the Our Father. Rev. Pastor of Christ the King and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Churches, Jaroslaw Kurpel, and Rev. Archpriest Taras Naumenko, pastor of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, offered prayers and benediction. Prometheus closed with a stirring rendition of “Prayer for Ukraine”.
The Lehigh Valley’s Post 42 (Jack Palance, patron) of the Ukrainian American War veterans presented the colors throughout the opening ceremonies.
Dressed in the traditional garb and armaments of Kozak warriors and citizens of Ukraine in the 16th and 17th Centuries, the Banner of Jasna Gora historical reenactment group joined in the opening, adding a strong sense of history to the ceremony.
Then, a tremendous caste of performers unleashed the “fireworks” of freedom and independence, a robust, colorful, vibrant and briskly paced cascade of Ukrainian music, song and dance that riveted the audience. As is the tradition at Tryzub, the artists themselves had designed the program in a collaborative effort.
Tryzub urged the audience to visit the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee’s display table where they could learn about those organization’s programs for humanitarian relief in Ukraine. All were encouraged to donate generously. At one point in the program, Anatolij Murha, representative of chief festival sponsor, the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union of Philadelphia, called Chairman of his Board of Directors, Attorney Roman Petyk to the stage. Attorney Petyk announced that SelfReliance would match donations made through the Tryzub festival initiative, dollar-for-dollar, to a maximum of $5,000.00.
In tandem Tryzub handed out informational leaflets and held a 50-50 raffle for the benefit of the humanitarian relief efforts. One of the winners of the two raffles, Mr. George Lesiuk, stirred the audience by donating all of his winnings to the UUARC program.
Another stirring moment occurred when the Vox Ethnika orchestra performed a musical tribute to pop singer – freedom fighter, Volodymyr Ivasiuk. The MC explained to the non-Ukrainian audience the unique role of Ukrainian artists, dancers, singers and musicians as dissidents and freedom fighters.
The Banner of Jasna Gora group, exceptionally well dedicated to historical accuracy, entertained the festival-goers on an individual basis with a seemingly endless myriad of displays, stories, replicas and battle and other reenactments and demonstrations. Many had their pictures taken with this group.
At the end of the program the MC called all of the performers to the stage: violinist Innesa Tymochko Dekajlo; Vox Ethnika Orchestra; Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble; Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Prometheus Ukrainian Male Chorus. The concert closed with the singing of Mnohaja Lita.
A vibrant Zabava-Dance at the outdoor dance pavilion followed to the tunes of Vox Ethnika. Throughout the day, festival-goers were able to visit vendor’s grove which was chock full of Ukrainian arts and crafts and, in many cases, the artists that created them. Face painting, and a myriad of amusements were available for “kids of all ages”. A lush menu of Ukrainian and BBQ foods, desserts and adult refreshments rounded out a very spirited, emotional and uplifting day.