Slovak-American Cultural Center celebrates its 50th anniversary at The Slovak Ball
The Slovak-American Cultural Center (S-ACC) or as it is known in Slovak, Slovensko-americké kultúrne stredisko (SAKS), a non-profit based in New York, celebrated its 50th anniversary on the red carpet at their 24th Annual Slovak Ball. With the Oscars as a backdrop for the black tie event, all those attending, a chart-topping 360 attendees, came in full force to acknowledge the accomplishments of the non-profit organization and to honor its founding and long time members, who have worked diligently since 1967 to promote, preserve, and spread Slovak culture, history, and current events through organization of cultural, scientific, and athletic activities at home and abroad, as well as through financial support of various initiatives. SACC continues to aspire to promote the advancement of Slovak professionals in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Those honored for their dedication, leadership, and many contributions to SACC included: Dr. Milan Beres, Matus Culen (current Vice President), Lydia Demko (founding member), Gitka Hlavinka, Eta Jendrek, Jaroslav “Jerry” Krupa (founding member), Judith Lepko, and Ema Stasko (founding member). Recognition awards for volunteerism were given to Zuzana Krcmar (current Vice President), Stano Krcmar, Rosemary Golia (current Vice President), and Maria Sevcik who inspired the concept of the first Ball. We salute all of those honored and the current Board members for their outstanding service and commitment to the organization.
Among the many attendees were distinguished guests from diplomatic community including H.E. Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States, Peter Kmec and his wife Monika; H.E. Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to United Nations Frantisek Ruzicka and his wife, member of the board of Women’s International Forum, Ingrid Ruzicka; newly appointed Consul General of the Slovak Republic in New York Ladislava Begeç and her husband Güven Begeç Deputy Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations; Consul General of the Czech Republic in New York Martin Dvořák and his wife Zuzana; President of First Catholic Slovak Union Andrew M. Rajec and his wife Idka and Honorary Consul and Chairman of Friends of Slovakia Joseph Senko and his wife Albina.
Representatives of Slovak organization were also present including Mrs. Nina Holy, Secretary of the Slovak League of America; John Duch, Chairman of the Slovak Heritage Festival; Kenneth Bombora, Vice Chairman of Friends of Slovakia; and many others. Former Miss Czech-Slovak US (2014-15), Morgan McMichen, currently pursuing her second Master’s degree at the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy was also present to enjoy the festivities.
The glamour of Hollywood resonated throughout the evening including at the opening of the Ball with a performance of the Viennese Waltz by Slovak professional dancer, Vanka Polakova and her husband Michael Choi later followed by a rendition of the famous “Time of your Life” from the movie Dirty Dancing. The stars were also out in full force with special guest performers from Slovakia -- 5-time Zlaty Slavik, superstar Peter Cmorik accompanied by famous violinist Daniela Lovlin.
The invocation was given by long time Jednota member and founder and Provost of the New York Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, Rev. George J. Torok and retired pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Tappan, New Tork. In 1997, Fr. George received the highest honor given by S-ACC, the Muse of Tatras Award, at the 5th annual Slovak Ball where he was recognized for his lifetime achievement in filming award winning documentaries in the area of religious life and values, for his religious leadership, and work as President of Hallel Communications/Institute. Clergy from various Slovak parishes and communities were also present including Jednota Branch 746 member Fr. Vladimir Chripko, Fr. Roman Palečko, Fr. Martin Kertys, Fr. František Čonka, Fr. Peter Bujdoš, Fr. Patrik Hakoš visiting from Slovakia, Fr. Jim Badeaux, and Fr. Marek Visnovsky from Ohio. Aneta Lisa represented LUX New York, a Slovak Catholic Media Production with the goal of supporting the Catholic faith among Slovaks living in the U.S. and Canada mainly through production of TV shows, news reports and documentaries.
After the presentation of a special token of appreciation to the honorees of the evening, the evening was in full swing with live music by Express Band led by Marek Soltis. The variety of modern, pop, traditional, and of course folk music was a wonderful mix to lure everyone to the dance floor. Those attending also remembered Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, of Slovak descant who passed away in January at the age of 82. Captain Cernan was also honoured in 1995 at the Slovak Independence Hall.
After a delicious dinner, the 360-strong crowd rocked out to Peter Cmorik’s first US performance. He sang many of his famous hits, including Dážd, Mám pocit“, and Nemusíš sa báť! Peter Cmorik was launched to stardom after he won the 2006 national competition “Slovensko Hlada Supertar” (Slovakia’s version of American’s Got Talent). In addition to countless awards for his many albums, Peter has also performed with the national theatre in The Three Musketeers, Krysar, Romeo and Juliet, and today he even plays the leading role in Jesus Christ Superstar! An acclaimed songwriter, singer, vocalist, and actor – “Cmoro”, as his fans call him, gave the performance of a lifetime during his first visit to New York!
The evening wouldn’t be complete without the famous S-ACC Slovak Ball Raffle which, thanks to your generous donors, included prizes such as: a 7 day stay at a 6-bedroom Hamptons villa courtesy of Dr. Brian Mehling (BHI - Blue Horizon International); a round trip air ticket to Vienna; a weekend stay for two at the luxurious Hotel Elysee donated by Library Hotel Collection; Dinner for eight at the private residence of H.E. Ambassador Peter Kmec; Dinner for two at the residence of H.E. Frantisek Ruzicka, Permanent Representative to the United Nations; an autographed guitar by Peter Cmorik; a traditional Slovak “Majolika” vase courtesy of Consul General of the Slovak Republic Ladislava Begec; an airplane ride for two over the Manhattan skyline courtesy of Richard Marko; weekend fishing trip for two in the Hamptons courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Hauk; a gift basket and certificate from FCSU filled with Slovak goodies; an original artwork by artist Luka Brase; 12-bottles of assorted Slovak wines by Slovak wine importer Centeur Imports; gift certificates to Czech owned restaurants in New York: La Cava, Vella, and Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria; and last but certainly not least award winning Goral Vodka Master, made in Slovakia and sold in the US. Thank you to the generosity of all of our Raffle sponsors and financial donors!
The Ball’s success is attributed to the many devoted members and volunteers of the Slovak-American Cultural Center that worked tirelessly to make the event possible. Congratulations to the Slovak Ball Committee-- Zuzana Krcmar, Peter Krajnak, Zuzana Maziarz, and Sabina Sabados -- for their pivotal role in making the Ball a reality. SACC hopes to continue the wonderful tradition of The Slovak Ball--- join us for an amazing evening filled with tradition, culture, and fun at the silver anniversary of The Slovak Ball on Saturday, February 10th, 2018!
Photographs courtesy of Rado Lesay and Marek Lukac.