Kansas City's Croatian population takes World Cup disappointment in stride

July 16, 2018 - 4:27 am

Even with Croatia's loss to France in the World Cup there were no long faces on Strawberry Hill, the neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas that has drawn Slavic immigrants for more than a century.

Red and white checkerboard Croatian seemed to be everywhere before Sunday morning's final against France. People could be seen with the nation's colors painted on their faces. Big screen televisions were set up in the bowling alley and in the gymnasium of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. 

Things did not go the way of the Cinderella Croatian team, as France exploded to a 4-2 victory.

"We have five generations of Croatians that emigrated to this parish and grew up on Strawberry Hill," said John Mikesic. "Today, we call it a win."

Mikesic reminds himself and others that Croatia did not exist as a country 30 years ago. 

"We weren't supposed to make it out of pool play, so getting into the championship game far exceeded our expectations," said Amy Fisher.

Security at the church estimated as many as 1,400 people watched the game, and a big crowd stuck around for the after party.

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