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Apokries Celebrated in Astoria and Jamaica (Vid & Pics)

March 5, 2019

NEW YORK – The Apokries/Carnival celebrations in Patras are legendary, so it should come as no surprise that the Patrinon Society of New York “Kostis Palamas” hosted a fun-filled Tsiknopempti event on February 28 for all ages at Arcadia Bar & Kitchen in Astoria.

With music selections connected to the Patras Carnival, fanciful carnival costumes and all the requisite decorations, the atmosphere was festive, while in the restaurant’s backyard souvlaki, sausages, and other meats were grilled as the day required.

Patrinon Society President Gina Georgiou told The National Herald that she welcomed reenergized society and noted that “Kostis Palamas” will have an even more significant presence in the events of the Omogeneia.

As pointed out during the event, due to lack of time, this year’s Carnival Dinner Dance will not be held, but everyone should be prepared for next year for a similar or even larger event than the ones of the past.

Saint Demetrios in Jamaica is one of the churches that celebrated Apokries for the first time after many years, reviving this beautiful feast that brings joy and laughter to the members of the community.

On March 2, the community enjoyed a night full of joy, good food, music and dancing, costumes and games for children, in the church hall before the beginning of Great Lent.

In the space filled with balloons, lights, streamers, hats and masks, TNH spoke with the presiding priest of St. Demetrios in Jamaica, Fr. Konstantinos Kalogridis, who has served the church since 2001. When asked about the meaning of Carnival, he said, “People now want to go out in the winter, not to be home alone. They want to meet friends and acquaintances, to spend a beautiful evening all together, in a Greek-Christian environment. The idea of ??Carnival is to be together as a family and to prepare for Great Lent, which is a period of fasting, meditation and prayer, and before this time comes, to do something as a community and as Christians.”

The St. Demetrios community in Jamaica today has 350 families, a center for the elderly, and a dynamic Philoptochos and Youth. In addition, a chapel has been built and hopefully will be inaugurated in the autumn dedicated to the modern Saint Porphyrios, who became a saint officially in 2013 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Synod. Church and sports programs are attended by about 100 children.

Around 60 children attend Sunday School and 70 the Greek afternoon school, which operates free of charge so that children learn Christian tradition and the Greek language. In addition, a very valuable effort is being made to bring more young people to the church so they can continue the Greek tradition and keep the religion alive through the efforts of the cultural committee of the church of St. Demetrius of Jamie.

Konstantinos Doukas, president of the community for the past four years, who has grown up in Jamaica and is deeply attached to this community, told TNH that this carnival celebration is a success that goes hand in hand with success of the development of the Greek afternoon school.

He said, “There have been many changes. The most important thing is that we brought in the charter school, which is a public school of the state, into our space. The state gave us rent for the charter school, so now we have no financial problem and the afternoon school reaches about 75 children. Think about how we had only 40 children in recent years and we lost a lot of money. Now we are trying to attract even more young people. We have added traditional dances to our program and plan for a Byzantine choir.”

About 200 attended the celebration which warmed the hearts of many who had not celebrated carnival in many years. The next celebration at St. Demetrios in Jamaica will be held on Sunday, March 24 for Greek Independence Day with a presentation following the Divine Liturgy with the children singing and dancing. A reception with nistisima foods will follow as well.

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