Albanian Community Keeping Traditions Alive

                                                   By John Murray

   Many young Albanian children living in Waterbury are caught between two worlds; the rich traditions and culture of their Albanian parents, and the fast paced, multi-cultural landscape of America. Clinging to traditions while pressing forward in a new homeland is the challenge of all new immigrants to the United States, and the local Albanian community put on a show this weekend at the 8th Annual Albanian Festival in Waterbury. For three days young and old alike came together to celebrate the music, food and dance of their homeland to keep their traditions alive. 

Several generations of Albanian-Americans flocked into the South End of Waterbury to enjoy the celebration of Albanian culture.

Lamb, beef, chicken, fish, spinach pies, peppers and cheese, and a wide assortment of breads and desserts were on the menu.

Visar Tasimi and the Generations Brass Quintet played the Albanian National Anthem Friday night on Raymond Street in the South End of Waterbury.

Sensational dancing last night at the 8th Annual Albanian Festival in the South End of Waterbury. After two days of tropical storm Andrea, Mother Nature finally cooperated, and at 8 pm the festival was packed with people enjoying Albanian beer, music, and a tremendous variety of traditional Albanian cuisine.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary posed for a photograph last night with three students selected to win $500 college scholarships from the Albanian-American Muslim Community Center. The mayor pledged to use his own money to double the scholarships in honor of his parents, whose lives were transformed by Albanians 50 years ago. O'Leary's childhood home was ravaged by fire and was rebuilt by the Bushkas, a prominent local Albanian family. The students are from left to right, Anxhela Muca from Kennedy High School, Mergim Bajraliu from Newtown High School, and Gredi Gracari from Holy Cross High School. 

O'Leary is also the first mayor in Waterbury to hire a member of the Albanian community, Saranda Belica, to work inside the mayor's office. 

This little boy has probably only been walking for a year and is already doing the Albanian Valle (traditional community dance).

Wilson Manelli, right, is the president of the Albanian community on Raymond Street anfd proudly posed for a photograph with his father, Fidai and his mother Myzejen. Wilson was born in the United States and has worked at Albert Brothers for many years.

A busload of dancers from the Albanian community in Worchester, Massachusetts, traveled down to Waterbury to perform at the festival. After a two hour ride, one young man needed to stretch his limbs before heading onto the dance floor.