Friday, September 6, 2013

Czech Days Re-Cap

I'm finally about 90% recovered from the sleep less weekend. We partied hard but it's time to get back on the grind and do something with myself! In honor of it being exactly one month from Czech Days I'm finally posting about the crazy busy weekend that consumer my entire month of July getting ready for it :)


Ahhh, Czech Days. The time of year that consumes the entire month of July prepping for it then in six short days it's all over with. All that work and practice the dancers put in comes down to seven or eight performances and the countless hours of baking kolache, duck, dumplings and kraut is consumed by hungry polka lovers and thus ends the festival. Now don't get me wrong there are many sleep less nights where I would have preferred to be in dream land snoozing away but like I tell everyone, I wouldn't trade those busy evenings for anything. If you know me, you know I love my heritage and part of that comes with the duties of spreading the love for my heritage with others. I volunteer in countless ways to ensure the traditions my family and ancestors started are carried on and I exhaust myself doing it. That's all part of the enjoyment of the "holiday" of Czech Days though!

A little side story that you need to be filled in on quick: My "bar name" as I like to call it is Sara Chudacek. That's choo-da-czech. Get it?! No, well, google chudak and then go from there.... So, the bar name, I use it often and I give it out along with a fake number to all my creeper friends who get wrapped into my love spell. We even have it saved into friends' phones like that to prove to said creeps that it's real! Poor souls don't even realize we're fooling them but oh well. It's all in fun :)

Alright, before I go into my full blown day-to-day schedule of what all went down let me give you a little insight on a couple of things that I'm involved in first. Here are the two major ones that I do, it keeps my schedule for the weekend fairly full keep in mind.

I started out in the Junior Beseda Dancers group at age three and it made such an impact in my life that I never really grew out of loving polka dancing. I did participate in dance classes all the way through high school so obviously I have the love for dancing in general but polka/beseda dancing is something that I will continue to love until I'm old and crippled or until I die. I graduated about five years ago and not to feel defeated I decided to take it upon myself to continue to go to practices, to help our Dirk (the ring leader as I call him) and to continue to help pass on the tradition of learning these dances that so few people know. The senior group ranges from ages ten to eighteen and there are about 70 kids involved in the dancing. We practice usually three of four days a week for two hours every evening and then the week before Czech Days we "tour" the local towns and go to nursing homes to help get the kiddos some performance time and to make sure their dances are perfected come the big weekend of Czech Days. 

If you've been following me for awhile you'll know that one of the fun "hobbies" I do during the summer is play with the Alumni Band. If you've never experienced the Alumni Band in real life then I promise you need to come down and watch us. One time and you'll be hooked. It's not only the talent of all the musician's but also the energy they give off. You could have a small polka band try to play the same song but you just wouldn't feel the crazy hype feeling you get when you listen to the Alumni Band. I am a proud member of this band and being able to play with my dad's friends alongside my own friend's from high school makes the band that much more special. Here's a little clip I found from Czech Days this year. I'm not playing as when I go through the parades I do flags (I'm on the right side in the back row of the flags, it's super hard to see me) but when we go to the bars I grab my trumpet and play with them again!

And that is how you stay completely busy for the entire weekend. Just be active in your community and do crazy things like this! So, instead of boring you with exact run-down of my day I'll just do a little high light of what my crazy schedule consisted of:

Wednesday- "Polka's in the Park" which is basically where all the band member's load up onto a flatbed trailer and we head over to the park. We bring in hundreds of campers each year so as an extra special welcome to them we like to go out there and play them a couple numbers. Prep them for what the rest of the weekend will have in store and have a cold pivo (beer in Czech) with them. The picture to the right is of us with our "mom" Kim! We kind of adopted ourselves into their family and luckily for us we're the coolest daughters Kim has ever had! We love hanging out with mom and dad. ;)

The picture below was taken between playing. We were kind of bummed because if you look in previous posts about us playing with "dad" aka, Randy, you'll usually see he's in Under Armor, always in a visor and usually wearing black flip flops or dancing shoes as we call him. The ONE TIME we want to trick him and show up dressed exactly like him he shows up in something totally different. Go figure right?! Oh well, dad and mom are the coolest and dad is excited to hang out with his daughters over the weekend. Can't you tell by the expression on his face that he's head over heels loving spending time with his girls?!?!

PS- Love our sign hanging in the garage? Ya, pretty sweet right!!

Thursday- Things are gearing up to get big! We always have Alumni Band practice on Thursday evening, then hit the streets to practice a little marching action. The dancers also preform that evening. It's our final push to get the kids a good practice in. Typically Thursday night is known for being the locals night. All of those that are gearing up to put together an awesome festival join together and celebrate our town's heritage. You see hundreds of red and black Czech vests packing into the bars and hotel beer garden. Lots of polka dancing action going on and of course laughter. My favorite part is hearing all of the excitement and laughter. The dull roar is of everyone conversing, a lot of people don't make it home but once a year so when you see all of your old friends and classmates you cannot help but bring up the best of the best times that you've shared together.

Friday- We're almost into full day busy mode now! Rush around in the morning to finalize all the small details you may have missed and throw on your Czech vest because it's going to get busy. Usually Friday evenings consist of the kiddie parade. But after losing the legendary Czech Days Charlie this past year we have decided to dedicate almost everything to him. Including bringing back all of the Alumni Dancers from the Senior Beseda Dancers group and having them dance with us. We danced with over 120 people and I am proud to say that most of them were more than willing to sweat for a song or too in honor of Papa Chuck.

After dancing I had to hurry and rush back to make sure I could help get the kiddie parade lined up and ready to roll. Great job to all of you participants! It was extremely tough picking out who looked the best, I loved it all. After kiddie parade a little more Senior Czech Dancers action up at the outdoor theater then it was family night time. We spent a little time listening to polka's in the garage then went downtown to go visit the bars and beer gardens. The thing I love about our town is that we have so many talented musicians that play over the weekend. At every bar and beer garden a band was playing and you could get your polka fix at any location you'd like. I danced several numbers with friends, laughing the night away and then ended up at Justin's house. We of course raised a little ruckus and had a blast all night and early into the morning.

Saturday- So, I stayed out a little late on Friday evening. I got a total of 1.5 hours of sleep and then I decided to wake up and participate in the Duck & Dumpling Run. Had I gotten a full night's rest I might have taken on the 10k challenge but I was a little groggy so I just did the two mile run. I completed it in under twenty minutes so that's about average timing considering I didn't really workout the month of August. After that I ran home for a quick hour cat nap then it was time to prep for helping the Senior Czech Dancers preform at eleven. We did an awesome job and the numbers are usually down for morning performances but we lucked out and the kiddos rocked. Next up was parade time. This is always a time of hustle since I participate in several activities so we ran to go pick up our float, took it to the parade route then I hurried to get over to the band so I could go through with them. We then strategically placed the four wheeler by the end of the parade so we could jump on it and get back to our float in time to go through for my second round.

Sunday- It's kind of the same routine during the day, dancers, parade, dancers, and then bars again. But sadly, it's the day that the entire year's worth of training and focus comes to an end. I HATE Sunday because it means that although I'm exhausted Czech Days is coming to a close and all of my friends will be leaving until next year. We as a community work so hard to put on this festival and we are so proud of the hospitality that we try to make everyone feel welcome.

Here's a couple of fun shots from Sunday evening wrapping up the weekend. This first shot is of our ring leader Odie leading us at Fox Hole. He decided he wanted to be foxy for a little bit so he threw on the mask and the fox lead the clan into a couple rounds of polkas. He's always finding fun props to add to himself, perhaps I should start documenting it! I was on top of the table so it was a bit tough to get a good shot of him but I did my best, sorry for the blurry quality. We played loud, we played proud and we never missed a beat... or three.

The photo below is of the family. We dubbed Randy #2 our uncle. At first, he didn't want anything to do with the Bohemian Stooges and I'm almost certain he wanted to strangle us all but now he loves it and we love getting the family together for pictures. Listed in order from left to right: Cousin Cassie, Uncle Randy, Me (Moe), Dad (Larry) and Sister Shelby (Larry). I love our weird family and it makes the Alumni Band that much more fun when we get to travel with family and friends! Looking at these pictures makes me want to have summer tour continue into a fall tour! Band nerd buddies, let's get together again soon! I'm suffering from missing you annoying drunks!

The chalk bandit stuck Odie at the bar! I may or not be innocent until I admit I'm guilty... But, at least we have documented proof for future use in the black market right?!

The one below is the final picture of the night. We were exhausted, Czech Days took a beating on us but we weren't ready to call it a night quite yet! Instead we resorted to using the double stroller to tote us around! The story behind it: My dad used to use it to carry around a cooler and his accordion before we got the four wheeler's to haul our things around. It worked quite well, and the bottom (where the diaper bag should go) worked great to hold the empty beer cans. Ingenuity friends, pure genius if you ask me!!

For the entire weekend neighbors, friends and families open up their doors, their front lawns and their beer cans to complete strangers. Everyone is (typically) on there best behavior and you can see smiling faces across the streets of Wilber. The duck and dumplings are filling their tummies, the beers are washing down the kolaches, the cheerful polka music is filling their hearts with joy, and the over all atmosphere of everyone is a flood of happy emotions when they see an old friend or neighbor they haven't seen since last Czech Days. Anymore I don't go to the bars to "get drunk" instead I choose to go and socialize. I'm ok with not waking up with a hangover. I'm proud to be a Wilber Wiener and I love my hometown!

After it's all said and done and you wake up around noon on Monday you realize that the festivities are over and the town is picking up the cans and proof that a huge event just took place. I felt defeated, I felt as if it was all over and I wasn't quite ready for that feeling to sink in yet. So I threw on the ol Czech vest and we went out for lunch as Subway. Czech Days isn't officially over until you pack up the vests so I wanted to get one last day out of the weekend. As my instagram said, "Czech Days isn't over until the Stooges go home... or eat Subway. But we vow to drink for six days straight, stick around folks!" And to add to that, we did go over to "dad's" (Randy's) house and see what he was up to. He wasn't the least impressed and joked that some people have to work during the week.

I've been digging around and finding myself all over! Here are a couple really neat shots I found via different sources!

This first photo is me on my first time through the parades and it shows me twirling my flag away. Now you might think the parade route isn't that long but it's actually extremely long! On top of it add marching and doing a fun little "jig" dance thing during the cadence and you've got a long walking route set up, I actually Google mapped it and it says it's almost 1.1 miles to be exact. The funny faced one behind me is my friend Shelby. Not sure why she's behind me in this shot because when we march we're right next to each other. Must be the angle of the photo is my guess?

Wilber, Nebraska Czech Days 2013
Flickr shot from Alumni Band

This next photo is one I LOVE! It's the photo of my boy's business (Spring Creek Repair) float that we went through the parade on. It shows a glimpse of my mom behind me, my dad on the right, my second dad Bob on the left and me giving someone a thumbs up. It's just a classic, "I love Czech Days" photo that shows just how much involvement me and my family have with the entire weekend.

Wilber, Nebraska Czech Days 2013
Flickr shot from SCR float

Just remember, no matter how hard you push yourself through the weekend, no matter how zombie like you are from the lack of sleep, you can always sleep on Monday. Be loud, go hard and pull out some extra special smiles and high fives Vitame Vas, Welcome to Wilber!


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