Sunday, June 6, 2010

JohnnyFest 2010

Yesterday, we had a very successful 2nd annual JohnnyFest.

My dad passed away 1 year and 5 months ago.  Last year, my mother, brother, and I decided to throw a big ass party on the weekend of his birthday.  62 people showed up.  It was fantastic.  This year, I think we had around 32.  Still, fantastic.

I always loved it when my dad was alive, and for some reason or another, some of his old buddies would get together.  I would sit mesmerized and thoroughly entertained by the stories of the old days and the old neighborhood.  I would laugh until I cried.  I just loved sitting there, and listening.

I just love hearing funny stories about the crazy stuff my dad and his buddies did.  I wish I could think of the perfect story.  There's the story about getting pulled over by the cops (well, probably more than one), the story about laying under the train platform and looking up lady's skirts, there's the story about being chased (well, probably more than one), there's the story about drinking too much and getting home too late (well, probably more than one), and there's the story of a wife/girlfriend of one of my dad's friends saying, 'that's enough, don't hang out with him (my dad) anymore' (well, probably more than one).

JohnnyFest is my chance to still hear my dad's friends tell crazy stories.  I love it.  I love them.  I love my dad.

This year, Ignacio's friend, Edgar, did 99% of the cooking.  We had Italian sausage, Italian beef, chicken, hamburgers, and some Mexican skirt steak thing that I can't say or spell, but as my cousin Sandra told me, if you say it fast, it sounds like "apple cheddars".   And from what I hear, the meat eaters LOVED all of it.  Edgar was a hero.

Tiger (my bro), my mom and I weren't sure if we should do JohnnyFest every year, every other year, or again for that matter.  But a few things yesterday convinced me that we should continue our tradition.  As some of my dad's friends were leaving last night, I heard more than one say, "see you next year."  That was music to my ears.  An old friend, Carolyn was telling me that she was explaining to people that she was going to a birthday party, and then would have to explain that the birthday party was for someone that is no longer with us, and that she thought it was really cool.  And finally, one of my dad's best friends, Carlos, was sitting with me in the basement and said, "this is really good for me".  Meaning, that this party, this gathering of people that all loved and miss my dad. is good for Carlos' spirit.

That was all I needed to hear.

Here is a little slideshow I put together from yesterdays festivities.

JohnnyFest 2010 from Natalie Mikolajczak on Vimeo.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you so much.


  1. Boy, that was sure a tear jerker! We had such a good time. Much thanks to you, Iggy and our great cook, Edgar. It was so much fun. I love all the laughing and story telling. You forgot to take a picture of all the food and the umbrella drinks! Love you, Mom

  2. Nat: What a nice looks like it was a great day or remembrance and honoring your ya chicka!

  3. Oh, *what* a cool idea, Nat! I think you should do it every year, too!

  4. Aww it look's like you all had a great time! I wish I was there! It was great to see all the pictures of you guys, I miss you all!


  5. Looks like a wonderful time and a wonderful way to honor your fathers memory.

  6. Nat, did I tell you what a great job you did before, during and after the party??? I'm still thinking about our JohnnyFest! Love, Mom

  7. Last year we were at a wedding for one of our friend's daughters. We were seated w/a couple from Hegewisch. He said he was a painter, I said my cousin was a painter. Turns out he was friends w/your dad, but didn't know he had passed away. Last week-end we were at the wedding of same friends, different daughter and they were there again. I told him Johnnyfest was being held that night. He told me how much he liked your dad and how good your dad was to him. We of course had a drink for your dad. His name is Tony and his wife's name is Carrie.

  8. Kathy-we saw Tony and his wife maybe two years ago at Pierogi Fest. Ignacio and I went with my mom and dad.

  9. what a great tribute to your dad!