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Baltimore Celebrates Greek Independence Day (Photos)
March 30, 2022
By Petros Kasfikis
Mike Manatos and Andy Manatos, the Grand Marshals of the 2022 Greek Independence Parade in Baltimore, with Bishop Apostolos of Medeia and the local ezvones at the raising of the Greek flag. Photo: Courtesy of Manatos & Manatos
BALTIMORE, MD – The 201st anniversary of Greek Independence Day, March 25, was celebrated with great enthusiasm and spirit by the Greek-American community in Baltimore which held the annual parade on March 27. Despite the fact that the weather was not favorable, Greek-Americans defied the cold to attend the festivities, which began early in the morning with the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Church located in the city’s historic Greek Town. The Liturgy was presided over by His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Media assisted by Metropolis of New Jersey Chancellor Rev. Fr. Christoforos Oikonomidis. Life-long Marylanders Andy Manatos and Mike Manatos were honored to serve as the 2022 Parade’s Grand Marshals.
A luncheon followed with guests including Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Comptroller of Maryland and gubernatorial candidate Peter Franchot, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman John Sarbanes, and representatives of the Greek and Cypriot embassies. For his part, the mayor of Baltimore said he was proud of the active role played by the Greek-American community, while Sen. Van Hollen spoke about the important contributions of the community and mentioned the ties that his family has built with the Greek Orthodox Church as his wife, Katherine Wilkens Van Hollen, is Greek-American.
Also present were Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, several Council Members, Maryland’s Senate President Bill Ferguson, and many other government officials.
Among the several diplomats representing the government of Greece from the Embassy of Greece to the United States were: Consul General Nektarios Vasilakis, Defense Attache Col. Panagiotis Vlachopoulos, Air Attache Col. Dimitris Bitsis, and Naval Attache Captain Prokopis Charitos. From the Embassy of Cyprus to the United States, Consul General George Loizou and Defense Attache Col. George Ioannou represented the government of Cyprus.
The parade, which lasted almost two hours, was attended by groups from Greek schools, dance groups, and members of the parishes of the Greek Orthodox Churches of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia who paraded dressed in traditional costumes from various parts of Greece, all waving blue and white flags. In addition, it is worth noting that philhellenic organizations of the city participated, as well as the evzones from the local association of evzones in Baltimore, who are trained to the same standards as the Presidential Guard in Greece.
For his part, the representative of the AHEPA organization in Baltimore, George Komninos, said: “We had the opportunity to celebrate together with all Hellenes everywhere the national anniversary here in the beautiful philhellenic city of Baltimore. We are very proud of all the children who participated. We are so proud to be Greek. Greece is inside us and we love it very much and we hope that the images from this parade will reach our homeland and in time we will all meet again.”
Equally satisfied was the musician Vasilis Vassiliadis, whose performance on laouto dressed the various events that took place. As he stated, “we want to wish all the best to the Saint Nicholas community of Baltimore, which is here in Baltimore’s Greektown. The parade was well attended and I am happy that my homeland, Karpathos, in particular, once again had a starring role. We have seen the streets fill with life again after almost two years of confinement due to the pandemic. I feel proud as a Greek, as a Karpathian, and as a Greek musician. Long live the nation and I wish every joy and happiness to everyone.”
The Grand Marshals Manatos and Manatos said via email: “A special thanks and congratulations goes out to the Maryland Greek Independence Day Parade Committee and its Chairman George Stakias.”
The parade each year features dance groups in traditional costumes, children groups, and Orthodox clergy from the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. These groups come from as far away as Ocean City, Hagerstown, and Frederick, MD, Washington, DC, Falls Church, and Fredericksburg, VA, as well as Lancaster and York, PA.
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