GR US

Saint Anthony's Pasadena Golf Classic Combines Fellowship and Fun

The National Herald

Nickolas and Irene Mitsos Family. Photo: CRYSTAL COX,
Elusive Image Photographics

LOS ANGELES, CA – The 17th Annual Golf Tournament is a celebration for the community of Saint Anthony's Greek Orthodox Churchin Pasadena and the many Philhellenes who attend.

Jim Christos founded the Tournament in 2000 as part of the campaign for building the Church's Community Center, but also as an opportunity for the community to come together. “I felt that we can celebrate fellowship and have fun at the same time. We have transformed the golf course into a Taverna on the Green; we want to people to enjoy the experience,” he said.

The Tournament is a visual delight as well as a gastronomic feast. Thesite of the PasadenaGolf Classic is the beautiful Brookside Golf Course,near the Rose Bowl, and has spectacular views of the San Gabriel Mountains. And the quality and quantity of the food is tough to match. The array of selections include their famous open spit roast, goat simmered in guava leaves, pig on the spit, lamb chops, short rib sliders, and octopus, accompanied with fine California and Greek wines, and of course plenty of ouzo. All of that was just for appetizers, as a formal dinner was served during the Awards Ceremony.

Tournament co-Chair Ted Attala, who has contributed to the Tournament since its inception, defines it as fostering “love of others and sharing Greek hospitality with other people in the Pasadena community.” The Tournament draws a lot of non Greeks who over the years have been initiated to the Greek spirit.Christos, who has worked in the hospitality industry since he was a young boy, agrees with Attala's prospective. “I started working as a kid in the family's Jimmy's Harborside Restaurant, a Boston landmark eatery, and I love making people happy and offering them the best food possible” he told TNH. Today, Christos is a successful restaurateur himself, one of his restaurants,Twohey’s, has been a family institution in Los Angeles for nearly 80 years. He applies the same principles of exceptional hospitality and love for food to the golf tournament as he does in his restaurants. “Philoxenia is a part of our Greek DNA, and I have embraced the concept to the fullest. It is a big reason why so many Philhellenes attend our tournament every year.We want them to experience our love of hospitality.”

The National Herald Archive

Photo: CRYSTAL COX, Elusive Image Photographics

Event co-Chair Vince Zarian, an Armenian-German Orthodox Christian, joined the Church after his marriage to Maria Argyropoulos and has developed a strong bond with the community. “When they asked me to co-chair the event I was excited to participate. I was in charge of the effort to bring in more sponsors and I accepted that challenge, because this is a wonderful community and I am very happy that my kids are part of it,” he told TNH.

The evening’s honorees were Nick and Irene Mitsos. Their love for family and church as well as their commitment to philanthropy made them the ideal choice. Nick Mitsos' story is a surprising one. He was an All-American baseball player in high school and at age 18 was drafted by theNew York Yankees.

But he turned them down. “My dad was from the island of Chios and his ideas were very old-fashioned.He did not believe in college education or playing baseball for a living, and I declined the offer.” What his father did not know at the time was that Mitsos had an additional reason to decline the Yankees’ offer.“I had met and was falling in love with my future wife Irene at that time, and I did not want to take off without her or travel from city to city. I ended up joining the military, which was mandatory in 1962.” They have been married for 52 years.

His other passion was for automobiles and that led him to the tire business.Today, Mountain View Tire Company has been serving Southern California for the more than 40 years, and it is a true family-run operation, as his three sons and extended family members work there. That gives him the time to indulge in his passion of racing. For the last 15 years he has been traveling the country with a 6.5 sec, 210mph Drag Racing Car in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro-Stock Class. But Mitsos is never too far away from the St. Anthony's community. “We have been sponsoring the Golf Tournament every year since its inception. And we help in many other ways. Whatever we can do to help the Church and its ministries,we will do. I am a true believer in God,” Mitsos told TNH. And there are many other true believers in the community. One of them is Aliki Haralambos, who has created the Prayer Shawl initiative. She and a few other ladies knit shawls for all who need them. “There is a real need out there. We are happy to help them keep warm,” she said.Attalastold TNH that “because of people like her, serving as Parish President was the proudest moment of my life.”

The Community Center opened its doors in June, 2012, and part of the proceeds of the Tournament will be used to pay off the remaining debt. A newly acquired property adjacent to the Church was purchased and the focus will now shift in that direction.