3 Major Anniversaries Celebrated in Washington!
March 4, 2023 was a day of celebration to recognize the 105th Anniversary of the Estonian Independence Day, the 60th Anniversary of the Washington Estonian Society and the 50th Anniversary of Pillerkaar, Washington’s Estonian folk-dance troupe. The celebration featured a special presentation of “Dawn Till Dusk,” which drew a sell-out crowd.
Over 120 celebrants filled the Community Hall of the Latvian Church in suburban Rockville, Maryland. The afternoon began with a social hour where people were delighted to participate at the first major gathering of Washington area Estonians since the pandemic. To please the Estonian-American palate, a light buffet was catered by Washington’s MIKKO Nordic Fine Foods.
Washington Estonian Society (WES) president Peter Kopperman opened the program with a welcome and recognition those who have supported WES activities over the past 60 years. He summarized the focus of the society in Washington during Estonia’s period of Soviet occupation to the present. He also used the opportunity to encourage new members to join the Board to guide the organization moving forward.
The Ambassador of Estonia, the Honorable Kristjan Prikk provided his perspective on the highly valued, long-lasting diplomatic relationship Estonia has had with the United States uninterrupted by the period of Soviet occupation. He also discussed the impact of Russia’s attack on Ukraine to Estonia, and the high level of assistance Estonia is providing Ukraine and its refugees.
Estonian American National Council president Marju Rink-Abel delivered her message to commemorate the anniversaries being celebrated and discussed the history of the Estonians in America, as documented in the book of the same name.
Jeff Zelek, Director of Pillerkaar Estonian folk dancers, honored the founders of the organization fifty years earlier, Anu Oinas and Maria Pedak-Kari, as he also recognized the current and past members who were present. Pillerkaar is also looking for additional dancers and hopes to expand the group as rehearsals resume post-pandemic.
The energetic and entertaining cast of “Dawn Till Dusk,” under the direction of Estonian-born artists Diina Tamm and Valev Laube treated all to a spirited production filled with audience participation. The program creatively demonstrated, through dance, the activities undertaken during the months of the year within the traditional Estonian folk calendar. The light-hearted performance ended the afternoon as the audience was brought to their feet with applause.