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The Evzones marching on 5th Avenue in the Greek Independence Parade in New York on June 5, 2022. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)
NEW YORK – Greek Independence Day is celebrated everywhere Greeks reside, across the globe. Parades have been a part of the commemoration since the first part of the 20th century in the United States. Towns and villages throughout Greece hold parades with schoolchildren marching in traditional costume and waving Greek flags. The armed forces parade in Athens is also held annually to commemorate Greek Independence Day.
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Victorian Council for Greek National Day and the South Melbourne Football Club on March 19 presented the 2023 Greek National Day Parade in Melbourne, Australia, commemorating the 202nd anniversary of Greek Independence. It was the first time the parade included opening and closing ceremonies. An early Australian celebration of Geek Independence Day was the Hellenic National Picnic held in Brisbane in 1912.
The history of the parade in the United States could easily fill the pages of a book since it follows the rich history of the Greek community. While parades have been held in many U.S. cities over the years, some of the most popular annual parades are held in New York, Chicago, Boston, Tarpon Springs, Baltimore, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The celebration of pride in our Greek heritage, history, faith, and language, along with the memories shared by family and friends lasts a lifetime.
The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York held the first Greek Parade in 1938, but it wasn’t until 1951 that the Blue and White was seen waving proudly up Fifth Avenue. The Evzones first marched in the parade in 1949. According to TimeOut magazine, New York’s parade draws the largest gathering of Greeks outside of the motherland. With thousands marching and thousands watching, the parade is the culmination of the tremendous efforts by the Federation every year. With so many pre- and post-parade events, the celebration of Greek Independence is much more than just the parade itself. This year’s parade marches up 5th Avenue on April 30.
Chicago’s first Greek Independence Parade was held in 1965, and as many Chicagoans will attest, it was a city-wide celebration with the route on State Street and Wacker Drive to the Eisenhower Expressway. In the spirit of the 60’s, the 1969 parade featured protesters carrying anti-junta signs. As the years went on, the parade grew and continued the march through downtown into the 1990s. By the mid-90s, the parade was moved to Greektown’s Halsted Street where it continues today after the hiatus due to the pandemic.
The original Detroit Greek Parade began during World War II to raise money for war bonds for Greece, an important American ally in the fight against fascism. The parade continued annually until the late 1960’s. Detroit’s Greek community decided to revive the parade and formed their current parade committee in 2000. An indoor celebration at the International Center in Greektown was held by the parade committee in 2001. The resurrected Detroit Greek Parade was held in 2002 and annually ever since with the exception of the pandemic years. The 21st Annual Detroit Greek Independence Day Parade will be held on Monroe Street in Historic Greektown Detroit on Sunday, May 7, 3 PM.
The Boston Greek Independence Day Parade began in 1994. The 27th Boston Parade marches on Boylston Street to Charles Street on Sunday, April 30, 1 PM, and the celebration continues immediately following the Parade at the Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common with Greek music, traditional dances, and food.
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