What to do tonight: Grab your squirt gun and channel your inner child

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The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern is never dry, and tonight it will be wetter than usual.

That's because today -- the Monday after Easter -- is Dyngus Day, the post-Lenten Polish tradition where men squirt water at women.

Dyngus Day at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, however, is gender-blind. Everyone will be throwing water at everyone else between 5 and 11 p.m., said Steve Frankowski, owner of the bar.

"It's very childish, in my opinion, and it's a lot of fun," Mr. Frankowski said. "You have to be in the right frame of mind."

The bar will hand out 32-ounce squirt bottles covered with babushkas, a type of head scarf, to the first 100 people who arrive at the bar. Other people can bring small squirt guns if they want.

If it sounds like Baptism by bar-goer, there's a reason for that.

According to the Rev. Joseph Swierczynski, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Polish Hill, Dyngus Day has evolved as a tradition since 966, when the prince of Poland was baptized a Catholic the Monday after Easter.

"It's in imitation of his baptism, that's how it got started," he said.

Over hundreds of years, the day after Easter has turned into a Catholic holiday where men douse their mothers, girlfriends and other women with water as a way to get their attention.

The superstition was that if a young woman got soaked, she would get married sometime later that year, said Marysia Zioncheck, a board member for the Polish Cultural Council.

Yet Ms. Zioncheck, who grew up in Krakow, Poland, and now lives in Highland Park, said girls were not the only water targets.

"This was a day in the family that everybody tried to get somebody with water," she said. "If you got up early in the morning, you were ahead of the game."

The Dyngus Day tradition has been embraced by American cities with large Polish-American populations, such as Buffalo, N.Y., and Chicago.

Steve Frankowski's father, Stanley Frankowski, a lover of all things Polish, started the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern's Dyngus Day tradition at least 20 years ago, right around the time the bar installed no-slip tile floors.

Just as in Poland, the tradition at the Bloomfield Bridge Bar has changed over the years. Buckets of water are no longer allowed, and neither are the Super Soaker water guns.

"We're there to have good, clean fun," said Mr. Frankowski.

Along with water, the bar also will be serving a Polish food platter.

The Bloomfield Bridge Tavern's Dyngus Day celebration is from 5 to 11 p.m. at 4412 Liberty Ave. Cover is $5 for the cost of the cleanup. Wear clothes that can get wet, Mr. Frankowski said.

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subsribe: http://old.post-gazette.com/trypress/ Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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