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Chicago’s Poles Eager For Visit From Their President During NATO Summit

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A Polish flag with a black streamer flies from a car outside a memorial mass at Holy Trinity Church held to honor Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the 96 others killed when their plane crashed yesterday in Western Russia April 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is home to the largest population of Polish people outside of Warsaw.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A Polish flag with a black streamer flies from a car outside a memorial mass at Holy Trinity Church held to honor Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the 96 others killed when their plane crashed yesterday in Western Russia April 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is home to the largest population of Polish people outside of Warsaw. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Roseanne Tellez Roseanne Tellez
Roseanne Tellez is the co-anchor of CBS 2 Chicago′s midday News at...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago is the largest Polish city outside of Poland, with more than 1 million people in the Chicago area considering themselves to be Polish.

So, you can imagine they are excited about the delegation of Polish leaders who will visit Chicago for the NATO summit in less than two weeks.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez has a preview of the planning.

At the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side – considered by many to be the heart of the Polish community in Chicago – the Secret Service has swept the 2,000-seat theater once, but offered no confirmation whether Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski will visit or not.

“We have preliminarily heard that he may be here for a concert,” said Greg Kobelinski, president of the Copernicus Center.

That’s welcome news in a community still stunned by the tragedy that claimed the life of Lech Kaczynski , the previous Polish president who had planned to visit Chicago, but then died in a plane crash in 2010.

“The polish community is very excited and we’re looking forward to (Komorowski) spending as much time as possible in the community,” Kobelinski said.

Even though they’re now living in Chicago, local Poles are still connected to their homeland and its president.

“He’s still got a lot of people here that want to see him, and tell him what they think,” Kobelinski said.

At the Polish Chamber of Commerce, they’re also thinking about business opportunities between Poland and the United States, and that involves the whole Polish delegation.

“Sure, when we have photo opportunities with the president that would be symbolically important, but the conversations with others are important, perhaps some of the ministers who will be visiting,” said the chamber’s executive director, Bogdan Pukszta.

Invitations to special meetings have been sent as Chicago’s Polish Americans prepare a first-class welcome.

Komorowski is a lifelong political activist. He became acting president of Poland in 2010 when the tragic plane crash claimed Kadzynski’s life. Komorowski was elected president on July 4, 2010.

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