CHICAGO – The Enosis Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of Illinois honored Hellenic heritage, the history of Hellenism in Asia Minor, and distinguished guests at its annual gala on Saturday, May 4 at the Fountain Blue Banquets and Conference Center in Des Plaines, Ill.
The event commenced with an introduction by Evangelia Sourounis and the invocation offered by Frs. Chrysanthos Kerkeres and George Kostopoulos. The national anthems of Greece and the United States of America were then sung by Eftihia Papageorgiou and George Giannetos, followed by passionate performances by members of the Pontian Society of the Chicago Xeniteas Dance Troupe.
In her opening speech to guests, Consul General of Greece in Chicago Ekaterina Dimakis stressed the significance of preserving the Hellenic language, noting it as the most important part of Hellenic identity. Enosis President Kostas Chaniotakis then took the stage to welcome guests and introduce this year’s Hellenic Heritage Parade Grand Marshals.
“Greek people, all over the world, every year in their national parade declare their ethnicity and their strong beliefs in democracy and deep devotion to the values of liberty and social justice,” Chaniotakis said in a statement. “Here in the United States, we proudly showcase our Hellenic identity and how it has been shaped by and expressed in the American culture.”
Grand Marshals of this year’s Chicago Hellenic Heritage parade were MIT Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Dr. Constantinos Daskalakis, and Chicago native, entrepreneur and new majority owner of Greek Soccer Team OFI, Mike Bousis.
“It’s an honor to be here because Greeks abroad and Greek-Americans preserve Hellenism…that includes memories and identity,” Daskalakis said in his speech to guests, in Greek. “Hellenic heritage is truly a heavy one. To be Greek is a rarity, and also bears much responsibility.”
A renowned theoretical computer scientist, Daskalakis, who has roots in Crete and grew up in Athens, said it has always awed him how the small geographical area of Greece has produced so many bright minds throughout history and in modern times.
Also in attendance were Cook County Judge Tom Sianis and Illinois District Judge Jesse G. Reyes, as well as Mariyana Spyropoulos, commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, among others.
Chicago’s Hellenic Heritage Parade was blessed with warm, sunny weather the following day, Sunday, May 5, as Greeks, friends and locals gathered in the city’s famous Greektown to celebrate.
Over 35 floats represented local schools, church parishes, organizations, associations, clubs and foundations including the Greek American Restaurant Association (GARA), the Greek American Motorcycle Association (GAMA), the Pan-Laconian Progressive Brotherhood of Illinois, the National Hellenic Museum and the Pan-Hellenic Scholarship Foundation.