FLUSHING – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York hosted its annual Greek Independence Parade Gala at Terrace on the Park on March 21.
The organizing committee, chaired by George Kitsios chose to honor the late Demosthenes (Dennis) Syntillas, who spearheaded the establishment of Athens Square park, Costas Constantinides, the first Greek and Cypriot elected to New York’s City Council, Amb. Vasilios Philippou, Consul General of Cyprus and police officer Michael Ameri.
Constantinides expressed his gratitude for being honored and spoke about how he and his colleagues worked with the Federation to rename part of 33rd Street in Astoria Archbishop Iakovos Street.
Rita Syntilas was very emotional when she accepted the award in honor of her husband, whom she said served the community with respect and love.
Kitsios introduced the honorees and spoke about the timeless messages of the Greek War of Independence, emphasizing that with unity Greeks can fight and win the battles of the current crisis.
Vasilios Gournelos, the chairman of the Greek parade that was a week away, reported on the efforts of the parade committee of the Federation and invited everyone to march proudly up Fifth Avenue on March 29.
George Maragos, Nassau county comptroller, referred to the economic crisis in the homeland and stressed that Greece has lost its economic freedom and need everyone’s help.
Manos Koubarakis, the Greek Consul, noted the role of the Hellenic Diaspora in 1821 and also invited everyone to march in support of Greece.
Petros Galatoulas, the president of the Federation, expressed his satisfaction with the gala’s turnout and took it as an omen for a successful parade.
Galatoulas thanked the archbishop for his presence at the dinner and for his support for the Parade.
The archbishop congratulated the honorees, Galatoulas, and all volunteers on the parade committee and told the guests to be on Fifth Avenue regardless of the weather – although the forecast looked good at the time.
PSEKA’s President Philip Christopher spoke about the dinner the Federation will host at the New York Hilton the night before the parade and emphasized that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will march as a grand marshal at the parade, will also attend the dinner along with Senator Chuck Schumer and other politicians.
Helen Psaras, who is also a grand marshal, as is her husband John Psarras, emphasized that that the success of the parade-related events is due to the members of the community and the opportunities offered to them to express their solidarity with Greece.
Amb. Philippou noted that “this honor really belongs to you” and praised the role and struggle of Hellenes Abroad on the Cyprus issue and other national issues.
New York States Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas presented citations to all the honorees.