After winning a bronze medal in the summer Olympics in Rio DeJaniero, Hoboken resident Dagmara Wozniak returned to a celebration on Tuesday at the W Hotel Living Room.
Wozniak, who has lived here for almost three years, won for Women’s Team Sabre fencing.
Wozniak arrived to applause by the crowd of roughly 60 people and thanked everyone for coming out to her “little Hoboken welcome.”
During the homecoming, Mayor Dawn Zimmer presented Wozniak with a plaque to show her how proud Hoboken was of her accomplishment.
The plaque reads “in recognition of your outstanding athletic achievement and for representing the city of Hoboken with dignity and honor at the 2016 summer Olympic games.”
Zimmer said she was “glad to be able to honor her” and believes Wozniak is Hoboken’s first Olympic medalist.
Leo Pellegrini, director of health and human services, also attended the event.
“It’s great to be next to an Olympian, and I think its good for kids from around town to relate and meet someone that’s an Olympic medalist,” said Pellegrini.
Sophie Graff, a 10-year-old attendee, who came dressed in a red, white, and blue top, attended with her family. Graff said she was excited to see Wozniak again, as she had met her before at a fencing tournament. Graff fences at Cobra Fencing Club in Jersey City, where Wozniak’s husband is an instructor.
The event was organized by Don’t Sit Home blogger Amanda Morrison. She met Wozniak through social media and became friends, which prompted Morrison to throw the celebration.
Morrison had originally wanted to throw Wozniak a bon voyage party, but was unable to do so due to Wozniak’s training schedule. Morrison got several local businesses and the city of Hoboken involved.
“We made her a welcome home basket, which local businesses contributed to,” said Morrison. “They provided gift certificates, jewelry, a bike share membership, gym classes, and so much more so now that she is back she can enjoy being home.”
The evening had specialty themed cocktails available for purchase, meat and cheese plates, popcorn, and an assortment of mini cupcakes provided by Jarets Stuffed Cupcakes located at 1401 Hudson St.
Maureen Jaret, the bakery’s proprietor, said she was excited to be a part of the event. “As someone who watches the Olympics, to have someone here in town who competed makes it special,” said Jaret.
Wozniak, 28, was born in Poland but immigrated to New Jersey with her family when she was a year old. She grew up in Avenel and attended college at St. John’s University in Queens, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology. She competed in the 2012 London Olympics and was an alternate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
At the event, she said being a part of the Olympics was an amazing experience and that she was ecstatic to win and know that she would be “coming home with hardware.”
“You have one life. If something makes you happy, do it.” –Dagmara Wozniak
Wozniak posed for photos and signed autographs for several children. She also offered words of motivation.
“All this hard work, and look where it can get you,” said Wozniak. “17 years of training and it was worth it. If you set your mind to something you can do it.”
One of the young attendees gave her a gift of a clay figurine of herself with her now iconic purple hair.
The bronze medalist said that she received some public backlash when she first dyed her hair the vibrant lavender color, but that it was important to he to be true to herself.
“You have one life. If something makes you happy, do it,” said Wozniak
She said that each Olympic experience is unique. “It’s a whirlwind in so many ways and different in so many ways,” she said, “but the competition level never changes.”
Wozniak said, “it’s very overwhelming being an ambassador for a country but it is an honor.”
Wozniak looks forward to being an ambassador for USA in the upcoming 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo and said she is already anxious to start training again.
At the end of her thank-you speech, she shouted, “onwards to Tokyo!”
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org