The Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Church in Merrick, Long Island, took place June 16-19. Photo: TNH/ Maria Tolios
MERRICK, NY – St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Merrick held its annual Greek Festival June 16-19 this year. The parish leaders spoke with The National Herald about the great attendance and the active participation of the members of the community throughout the four-day festival.
The positive messages began as early as June 17, when, given the good weather conditions, the estimated attendance not only showed that the pandemic is no longer a deterrent, but, in addition, it was one of the most productive days in the history of the community’s festivals.
“Friday was the best in history. The weather was very good and people came. I can generally say that this year’s festival is the best in general, not only after the pandemic”, said Parish Council President Nikos Poulikidis.
From the start, members of all ages participated. Women, for the most part, at the loukoumades station, while men and women joined forces to serve the traditional souvlaki. And the youth was present everywhere. Presiding priest Fr. Nikiforos Fakinos, moved to every post to be in contact with the parishioners, while his daughter, Katerina, also assisted in the effort.
“The truth is that last year’s festival was a great success, but this year all our expectations have been exceeded. The attendance of the people is moving and we are especially happy that we see new people volunteering to help and take the baton of the previous ones in the leadership of the community. It is important that everyone works for the success of the festival,” said Fr. Fakinos, while Poulikidis added that the most important element of the festival is the fact that the members of the community come together.
“What we discussed with the Council is that although the income that the festival brings is important, the most important thing is that it brings the members of the community together. People see each other and greater ties are created within the parish and the community is expanding,” said Poulikidis.
The festival was attended not only by members of the community, but also non-Greek residents of the area, who especially enjoyed the food and the traditional Greek sweets.
“It is a great honor for me to be part of this festival. It is a beautiful event. I want to thank everyone,” said Peter Brantman, an American member of the community, while Eugenia Michaelides, who assisted with the food, also expressed satisfaction.
“We are doing very well, the weather is good. People come and we have a lot of work. We all help, have fun, and everyone has a good time. We had a difficult time with the pandemic and we could not be together for the last two years. This makes us feel even more beautiful and even freer now,” said Michaelides.
The festival venue included, in addition to food, a bazaar and the established amusement park rides for the children, who also actively participated.
“We have over 50 children who are in the student group and also so many others in the group of teenagers who are currently from morning to night giving their best for the success of the festival,” said Fr. Fakinos, who, in conclusion, pointed out that the community kept in touch even during the difficult times of the pandemic.
“The good thing is that our parish was prepared. From the first day we had a very successful system of telecommunications, video conferencing, and also tele-presentation of the services, where people lit candles, watched and participated in conversations with the clergy, teachers and school children. We did not actually lose touch, even remotely. When the gates reopened, the attendance was the largest of all time in the services,” concluded Fr. Fakinos.
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