“I’ve never had so much fun banking,” said a pleasantly surprised Citibank customer, referring to the bank’s display of Polish heritage Saturday afternoon.
According to Dennis Donovan, Greenpoint Citibank branch manager, all Citibank branches in the five boroughs of New York City spent Saturday honoring the predominant ethnicity of their neighborhood. For Greenpoint, the celebration meant paczki (Polish donuts), pierogis and a collection of Polish art.
“It’s a way to acknowledge out customers,” Donovan said.
The smell of buttery onions and cabbage of pierogis might have been out of place in the corporate setting of a bank, but did not deter customers from stepping out of line to investigate the contents of the chafing dish.
Throughout the day the bank provided a culinary display of several Polish dishes including pierogis and paczki from Christina’s Polish-American Restaurant.
“Earlier we had a Polish breakfast, now we have a Polish lunch,” said Lumbomir Tomaszewski, the event’s featured sculptor and long-time Greenpoint resident.
Donovan said Citibank has held similar festivals in the past, but as it has been several years since the last neighborhood heritage celebration, he was pleased to host it again.
The red and white Polish flag decorated each teller window and a collection of colorful expressive paintings, abstract nature sculptors and scenic photography from Polish artists adorned the walls as two musicians played Polish contemporary music.
Janusz Skawron, a local artist, who helped coordinate the art exhibit said he wanted to show the community a variety work from Polish artists around the world, including one of his own paintings.
In addition to the artful tribute to Poland, the bank also offered a raffle featuring various Polish books, soccer memorabilia and other items.
Saadi Zain, a local musician who preformed at the bank, said he was thrilled to get involved in the event because Greenpoint is important to him because spending time in the community allows him to maintain his Polish roots.
“It’s sort of the hub of Polish culture in New York. I come here a fair amount to practice Polish,” Zain said. “That’s one of the great things about New York, I don’t have to go to Poland, I can just go here.”
Unlike Zain, fellow musician Pawel Ignatowicz said he does not come to Greenpoint very often, but when he does it is a comforting reminder of Poland, which he left about five years ago to move to New York City.
“The only thing Greenpoint doesn’t have is mom,” Ignatowicz said.
Skawron said the Citibank will also host the Polish heritage festival next Saturday, March 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring food, music, give-a-ways and a different collection of Polish art work.