UNION, NJ – Crowds of people attended the 41st annual festival at St. Demetrios in Union, NJ which took place September 4-9.
Members of the community and local residents enjoyed traditional food and pastries in the courtyard of the church, having fun with live music from the band Fantasia and shopping from the large outdoor souvenir market.
The presiding priest of the community, Fr. George Kouzelis, spoke with The National Herald about the event and warmly thanked the people who honored the community with their presence at the festive event.
“It is a historic festival that promotes Hellenism in the wider area of New Jersey. Our guests have fun and enjoy beautiful and tasty dishes made with skill. I wanted to highlight in particular the efforts of the parishioners, the council, the Philoptochos Society, and all the organizations that have worked feverishly for months for the success of the festival. A great thank you to our historical newspaper the National Herald for the promotion and support.”
Parish council president and the head of the festival, Vasiliki (Betty) Spiropoulos, thanked the volunteers for their endless working hours as well as all donors and benefactors.
All the proceeds of the event will be given, she said, for the strengthening of church and Greek school programs.
Irene Melachrinos, head of the Sunday School, said students and teachers helped the festival in different areas, others in souvlaki, others in sweets, wherever needed.
She said, “Every Sunday, our school, with classes ranging from the pre-K to the 8th, teaches our students the beliefs and values of Orthodoxy and Hellenism.”
The Greek School’s vice president of the school board, Mata Agriantonis, noted that this year the school is celebrating 90 years since its foundation.
“Nine decades of an invaluable contribution to Greek education, history, and culture. It was the first school in New Jersey that was recognized by the Greek government. Today, we have 70 pupils with grades ranging from the pre-K to the sixth. Lessons take place every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 in the afternoon. We are one of the few afternoon schools with a children’s library. We have educational programs, such as ‘me and my mom,’ which works once a month with the participation of young children and mothers. Also once a month we have a program for Greek culture, also with the participation of parents and children.”