NEW YORK – It’s not quite like Christmas Eve, but the annual fundraising gala of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York on the eve of the Greek Parade, which was held this year in the ballroom of the New York Hilton, was filled with excitement for the big day that follows, the parade that begins at 1:45 PM on 63rd Street and Fifth Avenue.
The parade will be broadcast on WWOR channel 9 at 2 PM.
United States Senator Charles Schumer and George Tsunis, ambassador designate to Norway, the two grand marshals of the parade, were honored by the Federation and the gathering of the Greek-American community in New York was graced by the presence of the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece.
The ebullient Philip Christopher was the evening’s MC, moving the program forward with humor and ending it ahead of schedule, earning the apprecation of the guests while doing his best to mention the names of all who made the event and the parade possible, including Elias Tsekerides, Federation president, and Petros Galatoulas, this year’s parade chairman, who also welcomed the guests and thanked all.
His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, also addressed the guests and emphasized the two themes of this year’s parade, the celebration of Greek independence and the acknowledgement of the heroes of the war for Greek independence in 1821, and the call for justice and the complete liberation on Cyprus. Many speakers repeated the message that “40 years of occupation and division is enough, especially in light of U.S. and EU outrage over Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
Greek Soprano Anastasia Zannis, accompanied by Spiro Cardamis on piano sang beautiful renditions of the national anthems and closed the event with Mikis Theodorakis setting of the Elitis poem “Tis Dikeosinis Ilios Noitou” with its moving lyric “please, please don’t forsake my country.”