CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Dozens of people celebrated in Slavic Village Thursday night during "Fat Thursday" as traditional Polish festivities kicked off before Lent begins.
The neighborhood is making a big push to revitalize.
Slavic Village has had its challenges over the past decade.
Starting with foreclosures, crime started to grow in the area.
But the people who live there or have family there say it's time to put that in the past.
They hope celebrations like this help the neighborhood move forward.
You'll find the district on Fleet Avenue near E. 55th Street and Broadway just off of I-77 in Cleveland.
Storefronts line the newly opened street after a $7.5 million reconstruction project.
Some are open, many are closed.
On Thursday night, it was a little brighter than usual for "Fleet Fat Thursday!"
A procession of people escorted dozens and dozens of paczkis, delicious Polish pastries, down the street.
"I've got paczkis, I've got all three flavors that they have left. They have raspberry, plum and rosehip," said Gloria Sinko, showing a plate full of pastries.
Music and dancing filled the Magalen Gallery.
But the food was the star of the night.
"We have stuffed cabbage, cabbage and noodles. We have sauerkraut and kielbasa and paczi. And pierogi of course, that's what's most important!" said Sophia Tyl, the owner of Seven Roses restaurant.
People can't get enough of her famous paczkis.
Suzanne Hovater is with Fleet Stakeholders Group and helped organize the event.
"People are coming back to the neighborhood, and it just seems to be growing as you can see. Which is a really good thing for us because it kind of hit bottom for awhile," she said.
She says Slavic Village is up and coming again.
"There's a winery coming in, we have a barbeque shop coming in, so we're all kind of excited to see new business coming in," Hovater said.
Bill Zatorski says he knows what it will take to bring this neighborhood back.
"You rebuild with love, it's not just brick and mortar right. If you build with love, I tell you what, they've got a good foundation," Zatorski said.
Business leaders in Slavic Village will meet at an Industrial Roundtable Breakfast next Tuesday for an update on job programs and how the neighborhood is doing.