ASTORIA – The New York Greek Independence Parade, scheduled for March 29 on 5th Avenue, was formally postponed by the Board of Directors of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York at their meeting on March 12.
It is a decision taken under pressure due to the latest information available about the coronavirus pandemic and the situation in New York, which is in a state of emergency, both at the city and state level.
“Not long ago, at the extraordinary Board of Directors, of the Federation, as co-chair of the Parade Committee, I called for the postponement of all our events celebrating Greek Independence Day, with a very heavy heart, because we have been working for a very long time, but also with a sense of responsibility,” said Vasilis Gournelos, at the start of the meeting, which will be the last.
Both Gournelos and President of the Federation Hellenic Societies of Greater New York Cleanthis Meimaroglou, have indicated at every opportunity that they have not yet signed the final cancellation of the parade, leaving an "open window" working with the City commission to investigate possibly rescheduling the parade for some time in May.
"It is very difficult for all of us in the Committee, as for you, but above all, the safety of all of us is the priority. We do not know when the outbreak of this disease will stop. All we could do was postpone the parade. If this ends by Easter, we will be able to have a new date in May. June is too late,” Gournelos said.
For his part, Meimaroglou referred to the rapid developments of the last 48 hours, stating that he was in contact with the Presidential Guard about travel arrangements for the Evzones up to the late afternoon on Tuesday, but two hours later was informed about the decision to cancel all their trips abroad.
“The Hellenic events and all events may be postponed, but the Federation remains open. We will be here every day,” Meimaroglou said.
The canceled events include the opera presentation at the Stathakion Cultural Center, the annual raising of the Greek flag at Bowling Green, the corresponding flag-raising event at Athens Square, the dance event at the Cretan House, and the annual Grand Marshals Dinner.