NEW ORLEANS – The Grand Banquet is the social climax of the 92nd Supreme Convention in New Orleans. After a week of meetings, elections and special events, the delegates will celebrate tonight, and then swear in their new officers tomorrow before returning to their homes.
The convention officially opened with ceremonies and a buffet dinner at the National World War II Museum of July 21.
Supreme President Anthony Kouzounis welcomed delegates and their families and participants observed a moment of silence and a brief memorial service performed by Father George Wilson, the Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral for the victims of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that occurred 40 years ago.
The Cathedral is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
AHI Founder Eugene Rossides, a Life Member of AHEPA, made a presentation on his new book, “Kissinger & Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness,” on July 24 and a Cyprus candlelight vigil was held on Thursday evening.
Eugene Rossides also became the first recipient of the Stamos Family Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented to only those inductees of the AHEPA Athletic Hall of Fame for achievement in their post-athletic career.
After the opening ceremonies the guests enjoyed touring the museum. During WWII, AHEPA raised $253 million for the U.S. War Bond Drive. As the leading membership-based, community service-oriented association for the nation’s American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, AHEPA was an official Issuing Agent of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
AHEPA’s Executive Director, Basil Mossaides blogged that “The venue was unique and served as a stirring reminder about what it means to sacrifice in order to preserve freedom, liberty, and democracy. If you are not here with us in New Orleans, I highly recommend you visit the museum should you travel here in the future.”
The activities of the convention, which include social events and meetings tending to the needs of the organizations, are centered in the Sheraton New Orleans, where most of the participants are residing.
For much of the week the delegates will be working within their various committees, including: legislative, resolutions, national projects, athletics and there will be larger general session meetings from Tuesday through Friday.
The national governing boards, the Supreme Lodge and Board of Trustees also hold meetings to conduct their business.
The schedule includes numerous planned social events, but it also included free time on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, there was a meeting of the AHEPA Cyprus & Hellenic Affairs Committee. Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean were discussed, along with recent supportive and optimistic statements by Vice President Joe Biden.
There were also meetings on Wednesday of the AHEPA Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, the International Committee, and the Hellenic Cultural Commission.
AHEPA’s women’s affiliate organization, The Daughters of Penelope, presented its “Salute to Women” Award to Iron Chef Cat Cora on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend, but her mother, Virginia, was there to accept on her behalf.
On Wednesday evening, conventioneers were treated to a boat cruise on the mighty Mississippi River.
The climax of the week’s events will be the AHEPA Grand Banquet on Friday, July 25 at 7 PM at the Sheraton New Orleans. The honorees will include George Kalogridis, president, Walt Disney World Resort, and the B’nai B’rith International organization.His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America will be the keynote speaker.
People across the country look forward to the events of the Athletic Committee. Louis G. Atsaves, past Supreme Governor of AHEPA, is the Supreme Athletic Director and attorney Gregory Stamos is the National Awards/Hall of Fame/Scholarship Director.
The Athletic Awards luncheon will be held July 25 and features the induction of four people into its Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame, including two-time Super Bowl Champion Matt Stover, kicker for the Baltimore Ravens; and NHL Carolina Hurricanes Owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. NBA Veteran Kosta Koufos and Quinnipiac University Hockey standout Sam Anas, the NCAA Division I Rookie of the Year, will also be honored.
Thursday also features the International Tsoureki Contest, which has a first prize of $500.
The final AHEPA General session will be held from 9 AM to 5 PM on Friday, July 25 and the new officers of the AHEPA Family organizations will be inducted on Saturday morning. The convention will conclude on Saturday with meetings of the Board of Directors, whose chair is Nicholas Karacostas, the AHEPA Supreme Lodge, the Daughters of Penelope Grand Lodge, and a joint meeting of the Supreme Lodge and the New District Governors.