GRANT PARK — Grant Park visitors Saturday will see beer-swilling football fans, athletic feats and ...
... actors in period costumes re-enacting the Polish Constitution Day of 1791.
A painting of the big day (Jan Matejko)
From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, the Chicago Chopin Foundation and Grant Park Conservancy will host a "Polish Constitution Day Celebration" at Michigan Avenue and 11th Street, in an area of the park being developed into "Chopin Garden."
The event, which concludes with a piano performance, follows the Downtown Polish Constitution Day Parade, whose grand marshal this year is Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
It's the third such event at the garden, named after Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric Chopin, since the Chicago Park District approved the installation of a Chopin statue in the park last fall.
"This will be a good addition to the park, and at the same time make the Polish population proud," said Chicago Chopin Foundation President Voytek Putz. "That’s the main purpose: to introduce [Polish people] to the place [and show them] that this is a prestigious place in Grant Park."
Dave Matthews says the park encourages NFL fans to check it out:
The Eurocentric, highbrow event provides great contrast with the NFL's "Draft Town," where thousands of jersey-clad NFL fans will passionately cheer or boo the names of college prospects selected to play professional football. Saturday is the last day of the draft.
Though the events couldn't be more different, Putz said he welcomes NFL fans to his event if they can swing by the garden Saturday afternoon.
"We’ll be very happy if Americans walk into Chopin Garden and see the versatility of Grant Park and Chicago," he said.
Putz said the entire budget for the Chopin Garden is roughly $1.5 million, with the statue its most expensive piece. The statue has not yet been installed or paid for, but Putz said Saturday's event is not a fundraiser. Donations will be accepted, but admission is free. Putz declined to say how much money has been raised for the project thus far.
"Money is always an issue but ... this will possibly explode. People will be interested," Putz said.
A rendering of the statue, a replica of a similar structure in Warsaw (Ridgeland Associates)
Chopin, who lived during the 19th-century Romantic Era, is regarded as one of Poland's most important cultural figures. He never lived in Chicago, but has a Northwest Side park and a Humboldt Park school named after him. Chicago has one of the largest Polish populations in the world outside Warsaw.
Saturday's events are part of a plan to offer diverse programming, drawing all kinds of visitors to Grant Park, colloquially known as Chicago's front yard. At Chopin Garden, the Grant Park Conservancy and Chopin Foundation hope to entertain guests with professionals playing classical music they would otherwise have to pay to hear in a concert hall.
Is its juxtaposition with the uber-American, made-for-television NFL Draft funny? Sure, the Grant Park Conservancy admits. But it's also appropriate.
"It’s part of the beauty of Grant Park: you can walk by and be surprised by something," said Paul Kulon, a Grant Park Conservancy project manager.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: