NEW BRITAIN – Democratic candidates joined Polish community leaders in New Britain Saturday for a tour of Broad Street and a taste of Roly Poly Bakery.
Ned Lamont, who is running for governor, his running mate Susan Bysiewicz and Shawn Wooden, who is running for treasurer, joined former mayor Lucian Pawlak and Adrian Baron, president of the Polonia Business Association in a tour of Little Poland. After having sandwiches brought to them at Roly Poly, they walked around the neighborhood and learned about efforts that had been taken to revitalize the area and make it a destination for visitors.
Pawlak pointed out how the Little Poland had drawn 15,000 visitors to the area this summer. He also explained how Roly Poly had expanded to its current, much larger location in 2006 when the area was being redeveloped.
Lamont said that his sandwich at Roly Poly was “delicious.”
“I don’t know anywhere in Connecticut that has kielbasa this big,” said Bysiewicz.
After leaving Roly Poly, Baron explained how local Polish artists had painted control boxes with traditional Polish art. He also pointed out one of the signs placed around the neighborhood, which told the history of the Stanley family, which famously started The Stanley Works.
“This is great,” said Wooden. “I’m getting a real sense of the history of this area and the investments that were made in it years ago that led to its rebirth. That’s the sort of thing we need in the state – smart investments in our infrastructure and our economic development.”
It was not Bysiewicz’s first visit to Little Poland, but she said that it had become a “vibrant” area.
“My father was the child of Polish immigrants,” said Bysiewicz. “He grew up on a potato farm in Middletown and I would come to him with New Britain frequently. My dad drove a 1950s Ford with a flatbed that he filled with 50 pound bags of potatoes and he brought to Broad Street to sell. The little Polish ladies loved Dad’s potatoes and they would come running out to him. The bags would go up to their waists and he would bring them into their homes.”
Lamont said that he saw that there was “a great sense of pride” in Little Poland.
“People believe in this area,” he said. “That’s what we need in Connecticut. We need to believe in our state and we need to make other people believe as well.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.