General News

Effort to Rebuild Glass Fire-Ravaged Macedonian Park, Chapel Survived Flames

CALISTOGA, CA – St. Demetrios Chapel in the Greek Macedonian Park was the only structure to survive the devastating Glass Fire that started on September 27, The Weekly Calistogan (TWC) reported, noting the fundraising effort now being made to rebuild the fire-ravaged park which “is popular with the Greek community throughout the North Bay area.” The park includes picnic tables, a bar, a caretaker’s house, and the St. Demetrios chapel.

Long-time Calistoga resident Tessie Calligeros told TWC, “It’s near and dear to the Greek-American community. Specifically, the St. Demetrios church was a place where many Orthodox celebrations occurred, from weddings to baptisms, Easter picnics and church festivals.”

“The Bay Area is home to 100,000 or more Greek-Americans, including four or five families in Calistoga,” Calligeros said, TWC reported, adding that “the Easter picnics at the park bring together 1,500-2,500 Greek-Americans across the Bay Area each year.” “It’s going to be a huge loss,” she told TWC.

According to TWC, the chapel surviving the fire “is an anomaly” and “at Macedonian Park, everything was burned except for the church.”

“Calligeros’ brother, George, drove up to the park on Tuesday, September 29 to witness and take photos of the damage,” TWc reported, noting that “Calligeros, 54, said he and his family have been attending events at the park for 45 years. His father, Steve, and mother, Pat, are also caretakers at the property.”

“The first thing I saw was a structure still standing on top of the hill,” Calligeros said of the chapel, TWC reported, “I walked the property and said, ‘This is really strange.’”

Built in the early 1950s, St. Demetrios Chapel, named, of course, for the patron saint of Thessaloniki, is made of “cinder block with wood beams, and wooden pews inside,” TWC reported, adding that “the other buildings on the property that burned to the ground — the bar, dance pavilion and caretaker house — were constructed of the same materials.”

George Calligeros told TWC that he looked “for evidence of fire trucks having been on the property to help extinguish the fire,” but “found nothing — no tire tracks, water, or mud.”

He concluded that “God was looking after the church,” TWC reported.

Tessie Calligeros and Taso Zografos started a fundraising campaign to rebuild the park, TWC reported.

According to the GoFund Me page, “Friends of the Macedonian Park was created as a direct result of the 2020 Glass Fire in the beautiful Napa Valley town of Calistoga. This was not simply a material loss, but the loss of a focal point for the wider Greek Macedonian community.

“The 2020 Glass Fire ravaged through our beloved Macedonian Park destroying everything in its path except the small chapel of St. Demetrios. The Macedonian Park was more than a gathering place for Greek Macedonians and others from the Greater Bay area. It was the place where our religious values were celebrated and shared and our heritage maintained for us and our children. Let's remember all the good times that we've shared and let's now join together and generously provide what everyone can for the rebuilding of this wonderful place for us and for our future generations.

“Today, with photos captured by a longtime friend of the Macedonian Park, George Calligeros, a true miracle took place. In front of our eyes, our beloved church of St. Demetrios survived the calamity without any substantial damage. We owe this to the Patron Saint of Thessaloniki, whom we celebrate on the Feast Day on October 26 to rebuild the park and honor his name and his grace.”

More information is available on the GoFundMe page- Friends of Macedonian Park-Rebuild Macedonian Park- https://gf.me/u/y259ct.


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