ASTORIA – Despina Anastasiou, 17, representing Athens, was named Miss Greek Independence for 2020 at the annual competition held on March 8 at the Stathakion Cultural Center in Astoria.
The event was well-attended and proceeded without any delay to the program, though it took place almost simultaneously with the rally in Athens Square in support of Greece during the latest refugee crisis.
Eight contestants participated this year: Miss Kassos, Kalliopi Perseli, Miss Arcadia, Gianna Koulouri, Miss Athens, Despina Anastasiou, Miss Crete, Zoe Makropoulos, , Miss Lesvos Valia Kavrakis, Miss Sifnos, Katherine Tsambas, Miss Nafpaktos, Elaina Poulou, and Miss Eririkousa, Marilena Xenakis.
The candidates were asked, in the first phase of the program, to answer three questions. The first concerned historical content, the second was religious, and the third was a question about the migrant/refugee crisis.
The historical question group concerned the Filiki Etairia, the role of Konstantinos Kanaris, and three heroines of the Greek Revolution. The religious questions concerned where the Ecumenical Patriarchate moved when it could no longer be based in the Church of the Holy Apostles, who raised the banner to launch the Greek Revolution, and why is March 25th is a double celebration.
There were also questions on the crisis, on how the candidate will use her tenure as Miss Greek Independence, and if she is proud of her Greek heritage and why. After answering the questions, the candidates appeared in evening dress.
Despina Anastasiou, daughter of Panatha USA President and Loumidis Foods Sales Manager Vlasis Anastasiou and a former student at St. Demetrios School in Astoria, won over the judges and the audience with her presence, responses, appearance, and excellent Greek.
“Today was a tremendous day. I was up there with very smart girls, very beautiful, and with good hearts. We all tried very hard to win this title, Miss Greek Independence. It was a great experience and I’m very happy about it. I want to see you all at the parade,” the winner told The National Herald. Her father noted that the overall competition was impressive.
“It’s so moving to see a young person, especially your own child, in this position. Despina has worked very hard. She has done a lot extracurricular activities outside of school and we are proud of her because she has worked so hard. All the girls were amazing. It is very nice to see the youth involved with the issues of the Diaspora,” said Anastasiou.
The first runner up for Miss Independence was Katherine Tsambas and the second runner up was Valia Kavrakis.
“The girls were wonderful, as was their appearance and how they spoke, as they were not as shy as other years. Also, their outfits were something else. I’m glad we had a great turnout and this was one of the most successful pageants of the last 20 years. The scoring was clear and the winner was indubitable,” said the event’s organizer, Avgerini Katechis.
All the participants received a warm round of applause and will also participate in the Greek Independence Parade on 5th Avenue when it is re-scheduled.