NEW BRITAIN - Democratic candidates joined leaders of the cityâ€™s Polish community Saturday for a tour of Broad Street and a taste of one of its bakeries.
Gubernatorial hopeful Ned Lamont; 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 Little Poland.
After having sandwiches brought to them at Roly Poly Bakery, they walked around the neighborhood and learned about efforts made revitalize the area and make it a destination for visitors.
Pawlak said Little Poland has already drawn 15,000 visitors this summer.
He also noted that Roly Poly had expanded to its current location in 2006, while the area was being redeveloped.
Lamont called his Roly Poly sandwich â€śdelicious.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know anywhere in Connecticut that has kielbasa this big,â€ť said Bysiewicz.
After leaving Roly Poly, Baron told the politicians how local Polish artists had painted control boxes with traditional Polish art.
He also pointed out one of several signs placed around the neighborhood telling the history of the Stanley family, founder of The Stanley Works, which today is Stanley Black & Decker.
â€śThis is great,â€ť said Wooden, who lives in Hartford. â€śIâ€™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. Thatâ€™s the sort of thing we need in the state - smart investments in our infrastructure and our economic development.â€ť
While this was not Bysiewiczâ€™s first visit to Little Poland, but she said that it had become a â€śvibrantâ€ť area.
â€śMy father was the child of Polish immigrants,â€ť remarked Bysiewicz. â€śHe 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.
â€śThe little Polish ladies loved Dadâ€™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.â€ť
Lamont said that he saw that there was â€śa great sense of prideâ€ť in Little Poland.
â€śPeople believe in this area,â€ť he said. â€śThatâ€™s what we need in Connecticut. We need to believe in our state and we need to make other people believe as well.â€ť
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.