ASTORIA – Pharmacy student at Long Island University Julia Kokkosis was crowned Miss Greek Independence 2017, winning the annual pageant of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.
The winner of the competition, who comes from Kefalonia, responded correctly to both categories of knowledge questions, and made full use of her mastery of the Greek language.
“We all had a little anxiety before we stepped out on the stage, but when we got out there, I didn’t care about winning, it was the experience that I and the other girls shared that was more important. I am very happy that I finally won, although I did not expect it,” Kokkosis told The National Herald.
First runner-up was trainee for Greece’s Permanent Mission to the UN, Florence Emmanuela Dallas, and second runner-up was Fotini Mamos.
Panagiota Chasen (Miss Athens), Elena Melekos (Miss Aegean), Stella Fragioudakis (Miss Nisyros), Irene Koutsoulidakis (Miss Crete), Katerina Lampropoulos (Miss Messinia) and Lianna-Electra Papandreou (Miss Patra) also participated in the pageant.
The event began with the singing of the National Anthems of the United States and Greece by Georgia Catechis. Angeliki Korais welcomed the audience and introduced the members of the jury.
“Our main concern is that all the girls continue on with us, even after the contest,” said Despina Galatoulas, chairperson of the event who addressed questions to the candidates, along with Despina Katsigiannis.
Greetings were sent by the perennial chairperson of the committee, Avgerini Katechis and the President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies, Peter Galatoulas pointed out that “to claim the title, the young lady girl must have historical knowledge and Greece in her heart.”
The competition started with the first stage questions. During their presentation, the candidates did not give their names, but only information about themselves. Thus, they were known only by their numbers.
The questions were divided into three parts: The historical, religious, and crisis. Each candidate had four chances to answer correctly to each of the first two parts (if you did not answer a question there were three other alternatives), while the crisis concerned the new Greek emigration, the management of the title Miss Greek Independence, and how they imagined themselves in 10 years were also asked.
Some of the candidates struggled to answer questions such as “the birthplace of Theodoros Kolokotronis” or “why March 25th is a double celebration,” and lost valuable ground in the pageant.
For the crisis questions, the candidates all noted that it was positive for Greeks to leave home and find opportunities in other countries, but it was negative that they would have to leave their home and families to do so. In regard to the title management, the vast majority focused on wider contacts in the Greek-American community, but also the possibility of organizing charitable and other activities for Greece. The second part of the pageant featured the evening gown competition, which won the audience’s applause.
“We will all parade”
After the event, all the contestants said that the Diaspora should make its presence felt in the parade on 5th Avenue on Sunday, March 26.
“We should all be there to support our country and to reassert our pride in our Greek heritage,” said Miss Greek Independence 2017, Julia Kokkosis, whose sentiments were echoed by runner-up Florence Emmanuela Dallas.
“I always liked the image of the Greek Independence Parade float, because it is very prestigious to be represented in this way to Greece in a foreign country,” she said.
Last year’s Miss Independence Maria Exarchakos said, “The tsarouchia marching up 5th Avenue sends a strong message that Greece is free.”
Finally, the winner’s mother, Alexandra Lascaris noted that the young people of the Diaspora should participate in the Greek Independence Day events. “It will be good for all children to follow the example of my daughter and participate in such events. Julia will always be in the Federation, as she is in the parish and school of St. Demetrios, a child of the Diaspora, and always close to the Greek-American community,” she said.