General News

Evageline A. Plakas: “Yearning to Breathe Free”

Evageline A. Plakas, with her impressive record of publications and her communication skills, has often demonstrated her interest in supporting and establishing bridges between the Greek Diaspora and Greece.

Her passion for creating high-quality results guides her to promote gastronomy, culture, art, architecture, science, and business organizations, and she is the inspirer and organizer of the ‘Sail to Freedom’ event.

The National Herald:  Tell us about the historic Sail to Freedom NYC event.

Evageline A. Plakas: It is a global celebration scheduled for June 6, 2021, at 2:30 PM EST (9:30 PM Greek Time) in New York Harbor, commemorating the Bicentennial celebration of Greek Independence (1821-2021).

The event will feature a sailing regatta parade of vessels departing from Chelsea Piers 61 and 62, NYC, moving toward New York City's famous landmark and international symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, whose official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. The regatta of vessels will be followed by professional drones recording and live-streaming to audiences around the world.

Sailing boats adorned with Greek flags will be sailing towards the Statue of Liberty to honor the critical contribution of the nautical forces of Greece, the ‘bourlotierides’ of Hydra and Spetses and Psara, and the mighty captains like Laskarina Bouboulina and Andreas Miaoulis, who played a significant part in the Hellenic Revolution.

We also want to denote the ancient ties between our country and the sea. The sailing route towards the Statue of Liberty was selected as a sail towards the symbol of freedom for all races. At the head of the armada will be a three-masted sailboat with top journalists from the United States and Greece (The New York Times, Washington Post, 77WABC, Kathimerini, Zougla, Open).

TNH: What happens upon the arrival at the Statue of Liberty?

EP: Upon arrival, in front of the Statue of Liberty, there will be a symbolic performance on the leading sailing vessel by Jennifer Anne Kovacs, an aerial dancer of international reputation.

She will perform an extreme dancing show while suspended in the air from the boat's main mast, tied with huge silk fabrics. The spectacular show with the aerial dancer spinning in the void symbolizes the courageous decision that our Greek ancestors took in 1821 to dive into the void to defy the mighty Ottoman Empire, their oppressors, with their scarce resources, and commence their fight for freedom in 1821. Their love of liberty fueled them to start the Revolution, an act similar to a jump in the void.

It is also a symbolic recreation of the legendary Dance of Zalongo that took place before 1821, in December 1803, with the heroic resistance of the women of Souli who literally jumped into the void choosing an honorable death over the disgrace of [capture by] the Ottomans, and this perhaps one of the first Hellenic rebel actions,  a prelude to the historic ‘Freedom or Death’ motto of the Hellenic Revolution.

Sail to Freedom NYC will also be accompanied by participants on chartered or private vessels in parade formation. The unprecedented nature of this historic moment – a national Bicentennial celebration in a time of a worldwide pandemic- inspired the event’s organizers to create an exciting and memorable celebration of the spirit of Greek Independence and ideals despite the many limitations of international travel and social distancing.

This sailing parade celebration will be remembered for years to come – and the organizers hope that it will inspire similar events worldwide for Hellenes, Philhellenes, and all those who support and value the Hellenic ideals of freedom, independence, and democracy.

TNH: The Statue of Liberty is a significant landmark symbol of liberty.

EP: Absolutely. The American Statue of Liberty binds all of us together as we celebrate the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution. Revolution is not only about Greek history but American history and the history of all those, as inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, "yearning to breathe free."

TNH: What is the idea behind this unique event?

EP: The idea is to raise awareness in Greece and the Greek communities around the world, to increase the interest in Hellenic history, and to praise American interest in the Hellenic revolution during the years of 1821-1829.

We celebrate the Hellenic spirit, our values, and the ideas of Freedom and Democracy with an inspired and unique event that will attract the eyes of the world.

A work inspired by our strong desire to remind everyone of the natural beauty of Greece along with the willpower and the bravery of our nation. Our ancestors fought and died not only for the land but also for freedom of speech, freedom of action, freedom of will, and especially for the freedom that defies tyranny.

TNH: Who are the organizers of the event?

EP: Sail to Freedom NYC is organized by a team of international professionals supporting the Hellenic organizations and diaspora community of the greater New York City area.

The distinguished committee of Greek and Greek-American leadership supporting the event includes:

John A. Catsimatidis, Honorary Chairman; Dr. Panagiota Andreopoulou, Vice President; World Hellenic Biomedical Association – NYC; Nicholas Bardis, President, Ionian Cultural Federation NYC; Markos L. Drakotos, Esq. President, Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce; Costis J. Frangoulis, President, Board of Governors – International Propeller Club of U.S.; Andrew Heretakis, President, Sons of Pericles New Renaissance Chapter # 5, Manhattan, NYC; Demetris Kafchitsas, President, Pan-Gregorian Enterprises of Metro NY & LI; Louis Katsos,

AHEPA District 6 Governor and Founder and President of EMBCA; Theodore P. Klingos, President, AHEPA Delphi Chapter # 25, Manhattan; Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, President, Hellenic Medical Society of New York; Elsa Jonsson-Matsikoudis, President, Daughters of Penelope, Evryklea Chapter # 36, Manhattan; Paul Pavlakos, Esq. President, Greece 200, Dr. Marinos Petratos, Chairman, Board of Governors, AHEPA Delphi Chapter # 25, Manhattan; Admiral Vassilis Politis, Member of Board of Directors of Yacht Club Of Hellas; Dr. Sotirios G. Stergiopoulos, Vice President, AHEPA Delphi Chapter # 25, Manhattan; Michael Tiliakos, President, Hellenic Lawyers Association of New York; George Zapantis, Vice President, Hellenic Lawyers Association of New York.


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