Paczki Day carries on despite the pandemic — just not the same

Social distancing, because of COVID, and frigid temperatures cut into Paczki Day festivities this year, but there was still plenty of holiday spirit in town.

By Charles Sercombe
Paczki Day this year got a one-two punch in its jelly gut.
First, there is the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that has crippled social contacting and hours of operation for bars, veteran posts and restaurants.
And then, the evening before the Big Day, the metro area got walloped with several inches of snow – making getting around pretty tough. Oh yeah, also throw in a biting, bone-chilling wind.
Despite all this, paczki revelers are a hardy bunch. They’ve had too many years of conditioning themselves to bear the worst, and actively embrace those times when the weather is almost downright balmy.
Michigan is weird that way. And so are Hamtramckans, and their fellow paczki partiers.
Bring it on.
Just for the sake of asking, we talked with two women standing outside New Palace Bakery in the arctic wind whether it was worth waiting for this Polish delicacy.
“Yes,” they said in unison and, well, that’s succinct and what’s the point of elaborating. We stopped asking stupid questions.
Over at Whiskey in the Jar – always one of the most popular bars to hang out in on this day, there was a lively bunch – albeit limited in number – carrying on like it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Out in a heated tent on the back patio, a gal was doing a polka-limbo thing. That was mid-afternoon, and you could tell things were going to ramp up, once more folks got off work.
(Editor’s note: Probably when August Gitschlag showed up.)
We stopped in for a carry-out from Polish Village Café — for some reason, Polonia was closed – and there was a fun group singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend.
The carryout business there was robust, for sure. There is nothing like a hearty Polish meal on a cold, blustery night.
Our bakeries still had long lines of folks snaked around their buildings. That was a promising sign.
Well, it’s been a strange past 12 months, but with any luck this pandemic will run its course before next year’s Paczki Day.
Here’s to next year, and good health (and sweet paczki dreams) to all of you.
Posted Feb. 19, 2021

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