Chicago's ethnic communities to host dignitaries

May 17, 2012 3:44:14 PM PDT
Anticipation of the NATO summit is growing in some of Chicago's ethnic communities as residents prepare to welcome dignitaries from their home countries who are visiting the city.

Chicago is the second largest Polish community in the world after Warsaw. The Copernicus Foundation in the 5200-block of West Lawrence and its community center always has a Polish flag flying. Community center members are preparing for events this weekend that may be attended by the Polish president.

The center's theater was built in the 1930s, and the community wants to make sure it is ready.

"The Polish community would really like to see the Polish president here in the Polish community center and we at the Copernicus Center are all excited that he might show up," said Greg Kobelinski Director of the Copernicus Center. "We are going to be honored to have the Bulgarian flag flying because we are expecting a visit from the Bulgarian president tomorrow."

The Bulgarian community in Chicago is small with under 50,000, according to Rev. Grouu Tzonkov, known as Father Gary to members at Sophia Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Des Plaines. The church has been a part of the community for 60 years. They will host a service Saturday afternoon for their president, but cannot provide details because of security.

"This president, it is a little different. It is a free election, and people like him," said Father Gary.

Father Gary says NATO is important.

"When you say NATO, I think peace. They keep peace especially in Eastern Europe and all over the world," he said.

Dominic DiFrisco is the president emeritus for the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. On Saturday evening they are hosting a reception for the Italian premier, Mario Monti.

"The NATO summit in Chicago is a source of great pride to all of us who love this great city on the lake. It's especially a source of pride for the Italian-American community in that the prime minister of Italy, a great economist and great leader will be here," said DiFrisco.


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