"Please come in, even you who have not arrived!"
When the door to the hall opened, from the twilight emerged a view of glamorous twinkling stars reflecting from the flame of countless candles in beautiful scones, located in the middle of each table. The atmosphere evoked in each of us a sense of gentility that we can see only in films from the Balls in Vienna. Crystal chandeliers just complemented the atmosphere. Guests entering this world graciously walked to their tables with a glass of wine, with which we were welcomed on a silver platter by a young brunette. Yes, I write about the ball, which the organizers tried to become unforgettiable, and I believe that they have succeeded.
Already for four years the Slovak-Canadian Society of Milan Rastislav Štefánik welcomes its guests at the ball under the church, but this year decided to change the environment and "grapple" with a much more challenging project than in the past. Ball moved into the banquet hall ... it is easy to say, but what it takes, only the organizers know, and can then only hope that their effort incorporated in this action will be rewarded by a sold out hall.
Who knows Italian cuisine knows that it never fails, and so it was on September 22nd at the Famee Furlane Banquet Centre. In the evening programme one could find a "catchall": intimate chamber music performed by violinist Stefania Hutkova and pianist Susan Ben Lassoued, but also folk dances by "Vychodna Slovak Dancers".
Society of M.R. Stefanik decided to support the Slovak Television in Canada "TV Slovak World" with the proceeds from the ball. Program's Producer, Katarína Homolová addressed the audience and thanked the organizers for this nice idea. Masters of Ceremonies, Zita van Oosten and Dusan Toth welcomed special guests - Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Canada, Mr. Milan Kollar and his wife Sonia, under whose auspices this ball was held, also the Ambassador of the Czech Republic in Canada, Mr. Karel Žebrakovsky with his wife, and Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic, Michael Martinček and his wife.
The evening was attended by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Charles Sousa, who said his greetings: "The Slovak community is one of our many diverse and culturally rich
communities that have helped build and shape our province into the wonderful place it is today. This is celebralion indeed a great way for us to promote Onlario's diversily. I commend the Slovak Canadian Society of Milan Rastislav Stefanik for fostering Slovak culture and for its many years of outstanding service to our community."
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in a written greeting commented: "As Premier of one of Canada's most diverse provinces, I recognize that we owe much to the people from different cultures who have put down roots on this rich soil. For decades, people from Slovakia have been coming to Canada to build new lives. Today, Canada is home to a dynamic Slovak community - a community that has contributed immeasurably to our social, economic and cultural life - and strengthened our ties with Slovakia. I am honored to join your community in celebrating the Slovak vibrant culture that has flourished in our province."
Greetings to the event also sent Tim Hudak, leader of the PC Party of Ontario, who is of Slovak origin: "Two years ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Katarina Homolova of Slovensky Svet and talk about my family's history, including how my grandparents emigrated from Slovakia in the 1920s and built a new life for their family in Ontario. I also had the chance to talk about my political work, and how the Ontario PCs will lead our province back to economic prosperity. Ms. Homolova is an intelligent and articulate interviewer and executive director, but perhaps most importantly, she has become a lynchpin in Canada's Slovak community. Her weekly show keeps the community informed of events in Slovakia and across the country, and keeps us connected to our culture. She has kept the history of the first Slovak immigrants to Canada alive by traveling to some of the first settlements and prominent landmarks, interviewing community members and telling their stories."
Dance to music of Miro Letko Band followed, and the program included guests from Slovakia - already known from last year's ball singer Peter Stašák, this time with his brother Paul, and Mrs. Silvia and Peter Clement. There was also a silent auction, a raffle, and there were plenty of prizes.
To whom can we thank for this nice, memorable evening? In particular, to the main sponsors - Carpenters Local 27; Drywall Accoustic Local 675, Nygard Canada, CBON Canada, Peter and Pauls, Allied construction Local 1030, and many other sponsors.
Many thanks to all those who helped to realize this ambitious project, but especially the Chair of the Association Helene Švihran, and Blanka Martinček - Hanečák and Leslie Hanečák.
Text: Olga Turok
Photos: Helen von Friedl, Lado Soudek