BOSTON – The 25th annual Greek Independence Parade in Boston took place on Sunday April 7 with much enthusiasm, dynamism, songs, and chants of “Long Live Greece”.
The parade began at 1PM in front of the Prudential Tower near the Boston Public Library. Marchers proceeded on Boylston Street and ended across from the Four Seasons Hotel. European Commissioner for Migration Home Affairs and Citizenship in the European Union Dimitris Avramopoulos was the Grand Marshall.
Under a blue sky on a sunny day with the temperature in the upper 60’s, hundreds of Greek School students dressed in colorful traditional Greek costumes holding Greek and American flags, accompanied by their teachers and parents, shouted “Greece Never Dies!” while the bands played patriotic music about Greece’s liberation from Ottoman rule and music dedicated to Macedonia.
Attending were Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Lowell Mayor William Samaras, Consul General of Greece Stratos, Vasilios Kafkas, president of the Federation of Hellenic-American Societies of New England, Police Commissioner William G. Gross, Massachusetts State Senator Edward Kennedy, and Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis.
Walsh told The National Herald that “it is exciting. The annual Greek-Independence Day Parade is a special day for the city of Boston, celebrating the Greek Community in our city and in New England…it’s a great day”.
Walsh added that “the Greek-American Community is very active in our city and in New England, a big part of our city and a big part of my administration at City Hall”.
Senator Edward Kennedy said, “I was at the Gala yesterday, I am at the parade today – I feel I am half Greek. It is a beautiful day. Bill Kafkas has put a lot of time and effort into this and it will pay off.”
The new Police commissioner William G. Gross said “this is my first parade and I love the Greek ethnicity of this city. This is a great day for Greek People. I am proud as a Police Commissioner to be part of our Community.”
Alex Mavradis, parish council member of the Boston Cathedral said “this is the biggest crowd I have seen in many years.”
More than fifty-five units marched with well-constructed floats as thousands of spectators from Boston and all across New England enjoyed the parade.
The local group of Evzones added more enthusiasm and meaning to the parade, representing the bravery of the heroes of March 25, 1821. The group is comprised of the following: Instructor: Kostas Mamakos; Assistant Instructors Nikolaos George Eliadis and Dimitrios H. Kontakos; Director Demetrios Papaslis; and Assistant Director: Dimitrios Skalkos. The Evzones included: Phaedon Aristides Athanasopoulos, Christodoulos Kyprios Constantinou, Stavros Antonios Constantinou, Kristo Fotos, Pashalis Andrew Galbadis, Nick Gkolias, Ilias Kalaitzis, Harry Katsaros, Panagiotis Katsaros, Demosthenis Katsaros, Nikos Lazouras, Christian James MacNeal, Panos Patrick Melisaris, Anthony Pappas, Nicholas, Anastasios D Skalkos, Alexandros G Skalkos, Nikolaos Stavridis, Michael A. Tanadilyan, Emmanuel Tsichlis, George Tsionis, and Ioannis Zavaliakos.
Early in the morning the floats started to gather on Boylston Street, inspected by the City of Boston Authorities. By 12 noon the pupils of the schools, the members of societies, and parishioners from local churches began to congregate.
A doxology was offered in the morning after the Divine Liturgy at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Boston and European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke in the church about the significance of the Greek Independence Day and the virtue of unity. A coffee reception followed offered by the Federation to the entire congregation and a cultural event with dances performed by seven Greek-American Dance Groups was held in Boston Common after the parade.
The evening before, on April 6, the annual parade dinner hosted by the Federation was a sold-out event. It took place at Boston Cathedral Community Center in Brookline, where Konstantinos Travagiakis welcomed the attendees.
Metropolitan Methodios didn’t attend the Gala Dinner and no explanation was given. He was represented by Fr. Vasilios Bebis, the newly appointed presiding priest at Sts. Constantine and Helen parish in Cambridge Massachusetts. Dimitris Avaramopoulos also did not attend the Gala due to a late arrival in Boston.
The National Anthems were sung by Aggeliki Psonis, Esq. and the invocation was offered by Fr. Bebis, followed by greetings from Federation president Vasilios Kafkas, Stratos Efthimiou, Consul General of Greece in Boston, and Dimitris Fillipidis President, Pan-Macedonian Association USA.
The Freedom Award was presented to Ilias Tomazos, founder and president of PAIDEIA of the University of Connecticut.
Konstantinos Katsifa, who was killed in Northern Epirus by Albanian Police on October 28, 2018, was posthumously honored. An award was presented to his two sisters, Anthi and Ermioni, who traveled from Greece for the ceremony.
The presentation of scholarships followed, whose recipients included: Federation Scholarship: Thomas-John Nacopoulos; Harry Katis Scholarship: Eleftheria Lambropoulos; Harry Katis Scholarship: Evangelos Horiatis and George Horiatis; National Herald Scholarship: Demosthenis Katsaros;
Ioannis K. Rammos Memorial Scholarship: Kristo Fotos; Arkades “Tripolitsa” Society of Boston Scholarship: Thanasi Arvanitis; Dr. Constantinos Hionidis Scholarship: Katerina Eleni Kafkas.
A dance performance was presented by the St. Spyridon Dance Group and music was provided by Kokkoras Brothers with Aggeliki Psonis, and special appearances by Stavros Pappas and Antromahi Elia and the Cretan musicians Dimitris Xylouris, Vasilis Dramountanis, and Niko Hatzis.
Kelly Polychroniou, Lecturer, Boston University, was the Emcee.
First row of marchers: Consul General of Greece Stratos Ethimiou, Grand Marshall, European Commissioner for Migration Home Affairs and Citizenship in the European Union Dimitris Avramopoulos, Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, Mayor of Boston Martin Walsh, Federation President Vasilios Kafkas, Police Commissioner William G. Gross, and Rhode Island senator Leonidas Raptakis. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)
Members of the Dance Group of the Metropolis of Boston bear the flag of Greece with pride and reverence. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)