Marchers wearing Justice for Cyprus shirts carry a giant Greek flag in the Greek Independence Parade in New York on June 5. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
NEW YORK – Under blue skies, an enthusiastic crowd gathered for the Greek Independence Parade in New York on 5th Avenue on June 5. Waving Greek flags and with smiles on their faces, the attendees were excited to finally show their Greek pride and cheer on the marchers after the pandemic led to cancelled parades in 2020 and 2021. Though the celebration of March 25th was much later than usual, the festive spirit was back in full force for those marching in the parade, too. Shouts of “Long live Greece” echoed throughout the parade and were answered in kind by those watching from the sidelines.
The participation of the Evzones, the Hellenic Presidential Guard was, as always, the highlight of the parade and attendees clamored to get the best photos and video footage of the impressive group marching up 5th Avenue. Applause greeted the Evzones along with shouts praising them as the pride of the homeland.
More than 80 associations, unions, and communities participated with members of all ages dressed in blue and white or in traditional costume, sending a strong message that Hellenism is alive and well.
The many floats in the parade highlighted the history of various regions and the heroes of 1821 as well as the church communities and their efforts to maintain and promote the Greek language, faith, and culture for the younger generations. A few of the floats also played Greek music to the delight of the crowd.
The parade Grand Marshals were His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Congressional Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Caucus member Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (D-NY), and Greek Olympic gold medalist Fani Chalkia.
Honorary Marshals for the parade were AHEPA for its centennial celebration with Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas in attendance, the United Chian Association of America, Chios Societies of USA & Canada, Chian Federation, and Panchian Society Korais in commemoration of the Chian Massacre of 1822, and Federation of Cypriot-American Organizations (FCAO), Pancyprian Association of America and PSEKA with FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou and Pancyprian and PSEKA President Philip Christopher, and Olympic Gold medalist Ioannis Melissanidis also participating.
The parade chairman was John Catsimatidis, co-chairmen were Demetrius G. Kalamaras, Esq., and Nikolaos Bardis. This year’s announcers were Anthoula Katsimatides, Demetris Filios, Despina Afentouli, Yiannis Stroumbakis, and Anna Sarigianni. Also among those present were Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Maria Theofili, Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, Deputy Minister for Greeks Abroad Andreas Katsaniotis, Consul General of Cyprus Michalis Firillas, Consul of Greece Dimitrios Papageorgiou, and the Hellenic Air Force Band.
EMBCA’s President /Founder, AHEPA’s National Cultural Commission Chairman, and one of the three coordinators of the parade along with Philip Christopher and George Venizelos, Lou Katsos captured the spirit of the day with his post on social media: “What can I say? Ζήτω η Ελλάδα! God Bless America! Zito To Ethnos! Today’s Greek Independence Day Parade in New York, the largest Greek Independence Day Parade in the world was tremendously successful beyond anyone’s wildest imagination and everyone had a great time. Thank you to all that helped and believed as I did that Hellenes United Can Never Be Defeated!! To the past constant parade naysayers who when the tide turned to a success rapidly jumped aboard what can I say? I say welcome aboard the Hellenic train! Hellas!”
Everyone shared their best wishes for the day and looked forward to next year’s parade as many headed to their favorite Greek restaurants in Manhattan or Astoria to continue the celebration.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
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