© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Thousands get their holiday shopping lists checked at Broadway Market

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

For countless Western New Yorkers, a visit to the Broadway Market is a must-do task right before Easter. Thousands were shopping there on Good Friday, considered one of the busiest days of the year at the cherished Buffalo landmark.

Polish foods including kielbasa (sausage) and pierogi are among the more popular purchases. But other items connected to Polish Easter customs were also in demand.

"Wooden eggs, pussy willows, and plants are big sellers here," said Michelle Brennan, who was working at the Lewandowski Produce stand. 

For many, visiting the Broadway Market is a chance to return to what was traditionally a vibrant Polish-American neighborhood for many years.

"We're going to get some Polish sausage, some chrusciki, we're going to get some placek, a butter lamb, all of the stuff you get for a traditional Polish Easter," said John Rachuna, who lives in Jamestown but is originally from Lackawanna.

With him was his daughter, Liz Smith, and her husband and four children. Smith says it's been a family tradition to visit the market and her kids look forward to it.

"I've been pushing them in strollers in the beginning here," she said. "Between them barely walking to my oldest. My stepdaughter is now 14. It's been an ongoing tradition for us and I'm sure they'll carry it on to their children as well."

Near one of the meat shops, Dan Wilke was setting up and then operating his three vintage German-built street organs. Wilke has been serving as an organ grinder inside the Market for 31 years. He has enjoyed watching the countless people come and go, as well as the many changes that have come to the market over the years.

"It's kind of hard to say," he said when trying to explain the changes. "A younger crowd, a different crowd, more suburbanites coming to the market, which is wonderful to see."

He also noted the more ethnically diverse crowds and vendors, which he added was a good thing for the market. He estimated only five businesses have remained there since he began playing his street organs.

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is traditionally one of the busiest of the year for the Broadway Market, with Good Friday usually proving to be the busiest of all. One of the shoppers, DeRutha Riding, was already looking ahead to after Easter, buying pussy willows for Dyngus Day.

"My niece dragged me down here because on Monday we're going to Dyngus Day because they say everyone can be Polish on Monday," Riding said. "I just can't wait to see somebody get hit with this thing. It's exciting!"

Outside at one of the neighboring bars, numerous people were enjoying beers while tables of Polish-themed clothing were available for purchase. But just one block away was a reminder that while Good Friday may be one of the busiest days of the year for the Broadway Market and the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, it's also one of the most solemn dates on the Christian calender.

Contrary to all the hustle and bustle of the market on a Friday afternoon, Corpus Christi Church - a parish with deep Polish roots - opened its doors to individuals on the day marking the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The church hosted Good Friday services late in the afternoon but throughout the day it welcomed visitors, many of them wearing Polish-themed clothes, to quietly visit the displays set up in commemoration of the holy day.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
Related Content