The Slovenia Times

Slovenians in US Launch Celebrations of National Day


The celebration in Cleveland, home to the biggest Slovenian American community, were held at Cleveland City Hall Rotunda and featured Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Ohio Governor John Kasich and a host of local politicians, including city councillors of Slovenian descent Michael Polensek and Joe Cimperman.

Featuring a cultural programme with the Korotan choir and Slovenian food and wine, Saturday's reception for upcoming National Day was also an opportunity for members of community to thank Žmauc as he completes his term as consul general in Cleveland.

Žmauc is scheduled to be succeeded by Andrej Rode in early autumn.

Slovenia is the only country to run a professional consulate in Cleveland, which has allowed it to gain a special status in the city. Žmauc, who is known in the community for keeping the doors of his office open well beyond official hours, will also leave a personal stamp on the city, as he helped inspire local authorities to start building a pedestrian-only zone in downtown Cleveland.

The idea was first floated when the consul general led a business and political delegation featuring Americans and Slovenians to the city in 2011. In the delegation was Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, who presented Ljubljana's idea for a pedestrian zone in the city centre to Mayor Jackson, who was quickly won over.

Four years later, the main city square in Cleveland around the Civil War Memorial is undergoing major renovations to turn it into a pedestrian zone.

The city will also soon be richer for a Slovenian investment, as businessman Boris Mušič is planning to launch a microbrewery that will produce beer using a recipe by Slovenia's oldest brewery, Pivovarna Laško.

Mušič has so far invested US$2m into the project that will use Slovenian technology and employ around 25 people from west Cleveland, an area which has been at the forefront of the recent microbrewery renaissance.

While the main National Day ceremonies in the US will take place in Washington and New York in the coming days, another town to celebrate it already was Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Slovenian Ambassador to the US Božo Cerar was the main speaker at Friday's event which also featured Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez.

Meanwhile, Slovenian Americans are also expected to gather at Pristava near Cleveland on Sunday for a remembrance event of a different sort, as they will gather to remember the Slovenians who fled their homeland after World War II and the post-war summary executions of members of the Homeguard and civilians by the Communist authorities. The remembrance ceremony is scheduled to include a mass and procession.

A total of around 183,000 Slovenian Americans live in the US according to the 2000 census, but the actual number is thought to be higher, with estimates ranging from 200,000 to 500,000. The latter number is given by researcher Matjaž Klemenčič in his publication "Slovene Settlements in the United States" when counting people of at least one-quarter or one-eighth Slovene descent.

According to Klemenčič, most Slovenian emigrants settled in the US between 1870 and 1924, during the Slovenian mass emigration, establishing Slovenian communities. Another major wave of emigration from Slovenia to the US took place in the years after the Second World War.


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