- July 16, 2012
Ah, those gatherings of old…
XII Tourist Family Gathering AWPL-SPL Sużany 2012 has come to an end. Time and place: weekend in the middle of July, spent by the members and sympathizers of AWPL and ZPL with their families in tents and camping trailers in Bieliszki (Wilno region)on the shores of Asveja lake.
‘It’s probably the biggest tourist event – in fact the biggest event period – for Polish community in Wilno region. Three thousand people participate in these gatherings, and counting all who will attend – say, in the next two days – the number will be even greater,’ Waldemar Tomaszewski, leader of AWPL told “Wilnoteka.”
Small wonder that representatives of all age groups appeared at the gathering – as Waldemar Tomaszewski states ‘…this is why it is called Tourist Family Gathering. There are many young people. It is an event that brings together the sympathizers of AWPL in Lithuania. The participants always think the weather is appropriate but we are happy to see the spirit of solidarity of our community here.’
There were many attractions this year s well, prepared with those who favoured active rest in mind. The idyllic weekend was spiced up with various sports competitions and contests for children. The participants could test themselves in may individual contests such as target shooting, fishing, weightlifting, chess, or checkers. But team competitions, such as volleyball and soccer were the ones to cause the most excitement. The kids were captivated by drawing contests and clay modelling workshops. Adults could leave their kids in a play corner where caretakers presided over their safety and ensured good fun for everybody. In the evening there was a camp-fire, colourful fireworks and a discotheque.
The gathering took place in a picturesque Bieliszki settlement near the Asveja lake. The closeness of water and good weather meant that there were many who wanted to swim or dive head-first into the water. The men flexed their muscular torsos while performing backflips while the women – perhaps worried about the durability of their make-ups – preferred to stay on the shore, lazing about in the sun or cheered the males on. The swimmers’ safety was overseen by qualified lifeguards, patrolling the lake in a pontoon.
‘Grilled sausages are delicious and the weather is fine. We are listening to disco-polo right out of our BMW, and sometimes we sing well-known hits. We are spending the weekend very actively. For example, we are preparing to a soccer competition. It’s great!,’ told “Wilnoteka” Witek, a 20-year-old student who takes part in the AWPL-ZPL Family Tourist Gathering for the third time. This time, in addition to his two brothers, he’d invited a bunch of his friends – Lithuanians, Russians, and Poles.
Even though this year’s gathering did not surprise its participants with any new attractions, and its atmosphere – what with cheap beers kept in the trunks of souped-up second-hand cars, disco-polo music everywhere, and folk costumes taken out from the bottom of the wardrobe – was more akin to a harvest festival in the south of Poland that I’d taken part in as a kid, it is hard to deny that the hospitality and good humour that the participants emanated were its strong suits. So perhaps the criticism is unwarranted, After all the gathering is all about fun and relaxing in fresh air among friends, old and newly met. And the pre-election gimmick? That’s just icing on the cake. Most likely no adult participant had any doubts that the strength of a nation lies in its unity (which by the way was stated on the banner under the stage, translated into Lithuanian and Russian as well). One can hope that the valuable votes in October elections are not too far away!
According to AWPL leader, Waldemar Tomaszewski ‘every gathering brings something new, such as this beautiful stage… . Now we have two stages for the gathering. We have more courts as well, since we couldn’t handle too many competitions in, say, volleyball; over forty teams signed up for soccer. We widen our property since the 7ha area is simply becoming too tight.’
It is worth adding that those who had higher artistic aspirations could watch the performance of an artistic group “Czerwone Maki” [Red Poppies] from Szyrwinty region – the ladies wearing red flowers in their hair fit right in with the gathering’s tradition performing regional folk songs a capella. The leader of AWPL Waldemar Tomaszewski, Polish consul in Wilno Stanisław Kargul, and the head of “Wspólnota Polska” association Longin Komołowski all said a “word to the people.”
The event, as is done every year, was held by Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Association of Poles in Lithuania. Soon the members of both will be working hard in the electoral campaign; just as hard will be the following parliamentary elections, taking place on October 14th.
The report from the gathering can be seen in Wilnoteka on TVP Polonia on Wednesday July 18th at 8 AM (7 AM Polish time) and 7.55 PM (6.55 PM Polish time); a repeat showing can be seen on Thursday at 6.45 AM (5.45 AM).
Tłumaczenie Andrzej Rola w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Andrzej Rola within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.