COHOES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Organized by 518 Ukrainians, an emotional afternoon of Ukrainian spirit and culture was held at the Ukrainian American Citizens Club. NEWS10’s Lydia Kulbida emceed the event and shared personal stories of her heritage.
Attendees filled the nearby streets to park. Those who came out were grateful to see all the support for those thousands of miles away. “That’s what it’s all about. We got to do it. Any positivity and positive stuff we can put out there is for the benefit of everybody,” said Peter Urban, a local Ukrainian.
Ukraine will benefit from the festival, with proceeds providing aid to those suffering from Russia’s war. Ukrainian Congress Committee President, Dr. Andrij Baran, wants to keep attention on the war.
“More importantly, we are trying to raise funds for Ukraine. It’s falling out of the headlines. Putin is not sleeping. Every day, Ukrainian boys are dying on the front.”
The United States House of Representatives approved a stopgap bill that prevented a government shutdown due to funding. Aid to Ukraine was cut from the budget in the process. “That’s an extremely short-sighted measure. Ukrainians are doing America’s job. Ukrainian boys are dying so American boys don’t have to. Eventually, Putin is going to hit Poland, he is going to hit the Baltics, and they are NATO,” described Baran.
A petition was set out for anyone to sign asking the United States government to fund Ukraine’s defense. The document will be given to lawmakers in Washington and the White House. “I prepared ten pages, but I see they are filling very, very fast. There are a lot of people who are willing to sign this,” stated Olena Lake, a Ukraine native.
While government support has become a political issue, the local community and organizations are willing to help out. Some like Medical Relief for Ukraine have been active since the beginning of the conflict. “We started this organization ten days after the war started, which is one and a half years ago, and have not stopped since then,” explained Co-founder, Iryna Johnson.
These groups told NEWS10’s Anthony Krolikowski that they would like to hold another Ukrainian Festival in 2024.