After 70 years behind an accordion, Florian Chimielewski's still having fun


How much fun can you have in 70 years of show business?

Most of us will never know, but the patriarch of the Chimielewski Funtime Band is marking that anniversary this weekend at the International Polkafest in Hinckley.

Florian Chimielewski represents the middle of five generations in his family who have entertained Minnesotans with polka music dating back to 1882, according to the family band's website.

As WDIO reports, Florian learned to play an accordion passed on to him by his older brother and performed publicly for the first time at the wedding of a neighbor who had just returned from serving in World War II.

In the 1950s, television gave the Chimielewskis a new way to share their music. Forum News Service reports a show that started as "Polish TV Party" was soon rechristened "Chimielewski Funtime."

The Isanti County News says Florian went on to tape more than 2,000 installments of the show, which was televised by 42 stations nationwide.

The Minnesota Music Hall of Fame calls it the longest-running television show in the U.S.

Chimielewski also represented his native east central Minnesota in the state Senate for more than 20 years.

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According to the Isanti County paper, Florian now owns the farmstead in Sturgeon Lake where he was raised with 14 siblings.

Not that there's much time for farming with the performance schedule the Chimielewskis maintain. Florian's daughter Patty started performing with the band at age 7 and tells the Duluth News Tribune they've played as many as 282 shows in a year – sometimes three in a day.

Doesn't that get to be a grind after seven decades?

Florian Chimielewski tells the News Tribune it's not: “To us, it’s joy," he says. "It doesn’t feel like work to us. It’s a lot of joy. … I don’t like sitting down. I like to work."

How can it be work, though when it's such a fun time?

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