I first learned about Paczki Day when I was visiting Detroit in February of this year. I went to Small’s, a Hamtramck rock venue, to see a show. I got carded at the door, and when I presented my out-of-state ID, the doorman asked, “Missouri? Really?”
“What are you doing in Hamtramck?”
“I’m thinking about moving here.”
I instantaneously became the recipient of an enthusiastic two-bouncer bear hug. “It’s the best decision you’ll ever make! I love Hamtramck! Are you going to be here on Tuesday?”
“No, I’m leaving before then.”
“Is there any way you can change your plans? Tuesday is Paczki Day.”
Where New Orleans has its massive Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras debauchery, and St. Louis has its own formidable boozefest (complete with dog parade), Hamtramck has Paczki Day. It’s celebrated in other cities with large Polish-American populations, but here it is legend. On Paczki Day, you do two things:
1. Eat massive amounts of enormous Polish donuts called paczki, and
2. drink drink drink.
Hillary Cherry, one of the geniuses behind Hamtramck Star, tells me that Paczki Day was instated by a 1980s mayor of Hamtramck around the time that the Dodge Main plant was being torn down. Spirits were down and moths were flying out of pocketbooks, and so it was a way to get people from all over the metro area to come to Hamtramck and buy paczki and alcohol. What a great idea.
I am told that I will need to take the day off work.
I’m sure this isn’t news to Detroitlanders, but for folks elsewhere who are curious, here’s a video of Mo Rocca visiting Hamtramck on Paczki Day.
It’s a couple of months off yet, but I can’t wait. Innards, I’m sorry in advance.