NEW YORK – The temperature never climbed out of the forties but the Greek-American community of the Tri-State area celebrated Greek Independence Day on Fifth Avenue. There was just just enough of a breeze to keep the blue and white flags waving and as usual children were delighted and they in turn warmed the hearts of the adults.
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start, as a police horse, apparently startled by the start of the Greek music, knocked its rider to the ground.
The police officer received medical attention from the paramedics on hand as public address announcer Anthoula Katsimatides told the crowd to be patient. The Channel 9 television broadcasters, Ernie Anastos and Nicole Petallides, and special guest Constantine Maroulis kept the home audience informed.
The officer did not appear to be seriously hurt and the parade got underway, with announcements from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio, both of whom praised the Greek-American community.
An array of dignitaries were chosen to lead the procession. Governor Cuomo was a Grand Marshal, along with Mr. and Mrs. John Calamos and Mr. and Mr.s. John Psaras. The Parade’s Honorary Chairman is Archbishop Demetrios, and the Chairmen Emeriti are John Catsimatidis and Philip Christopher. There is a wide representation of Greek clubs marching in the parade, as well as societies of the various islands and other areas of Greece.
Earlier in the day, there was a great deal of enthusiasm at the Harmony Club’s pre-parade reception. Among the politicians and other digniatries on hand to praise Greek independence, Greek values, and the contributions of Greeks to America were former NY City Councilman Peter Vallone, NY State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, former Brooklyn Assemblyman Matthew Mirones, former Hellenic Lawyers Association President Mamie Stathatos-Fulgieri, NY State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywomen Nicole Malliotakis and Aravaella Simotas, NY City Councilman Costa Constantinides, acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, and AHEPA Supreme President Phillip Frangos, who sends greetings from all 400 AHEPA Chapters around the world. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos congratulated the community for the parade and for its endeavors on Greece’s behalf.
Throughout the afternoon, The National Herald will keep you updated with live reports from our correspondents.