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The 40th Anniversary Boston Marathon Wreath Ceremony

BOSTON, MA – The 40th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Wreath Ceremony took place at the Consulate General of Greece in Boston on April 11. Consul General Symeon Tegos presented four olive branch wreaths cut from the plains of Marathon, Greece, to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which will be used to crown the winners of the 128th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15.

The wreath ceremony was co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Greece in Boston and the Alpha Omega Council of Boston, with support from the 26.2 Foundation. Alpha Omega Council is a Greek-American organization cultivating the ideals of Hellenism by uniting Americans of Hellenic descent and Philhellenes through philanthropy and fellowship.

The evening began with welcoming remarks by Alpha Omega Council President Paul Tsitsopoulos, who provided history on the olive wreath and the crowning of victorious athletes in the Ancient Olympic Games, which was introduced to the Boston Marathon beginning in 1933.

“The Marathon is a time when the connection between our countries shines brightest. I am very proud that we have been able to keep these beautiful and important traditions alive and to help remind all of the Boston Marathon’s roots in Ancient Greece,” said Tsitsopoulos. “On behalf of the Alpha Omega Council, the Board of Trustees and its membership, I thank you all for joining us here this evening. The Alpha Omega Council is honored to be a part of this celebration and we thank Consul General Symeon Tegos for hosting us here at the Consulate. We also look forward to continuing our strong relationship and our friendship with the BAA and its dynamic leadership team.”

Left to right: Boston Athletic Association Vice Chair Keith McDermott, Consul General of Greece in Boston Symeon Tegos, Boston Athletic Association President and CEO Jack Flemming, Alpha Omega Council President Paul Tsitsopoulos (Photo: Areti Bratsis)

Tsitsopoulos introduced Arielle Mitropoulos, Greek-American Cambridge-native, five-time Boston Marathon charity runner, and WMUR-TV news reporter as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Mitropoulos reminisced about receiving the Peter Agris Memorial Journalism Scholarship from the Alpha Omega Council for young Greek-Americans pursuing journalism, which ultimately inspired her career. She also spoke to the unparalleled gifts and contributions that the Greeks have given to the world, as well as the prevalence and importance of Greek history and culture in our daily lives.

An invocation and prayer was offered by His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, followed by the National Anthems of Greece and the United States sung by Tiffani Mezitis.

“I am honored to present these four gold wreaths, cut from the plains of Marathon as a gift from the people of Greece,” Consul General Tegos said. “These wreaths connect Greece with the Boston Marathon and ideals of democracy and peace.”

The Maidens from the Boston Lykeion Ellinidon carried the Marathon Wreaths into the ceremony. They were presented by Tegos on behalf of the Consulate General of Greece in Boston to BAA Vice Chair Kieth McDermott.

“It was an honor for us to be here at the Boston Marathon Wreath Ceremony,” said McDermott. “Boston is the Athens of America. This describes our cultural and intellectual traditions and our legacy of democracy.”

The 40th Anniversary of the Boston Marathon Wreath Ceremony was also observed during the program. In 1984, in recognition of the historic ties which continue to this very day between the birthplace of democracy in ancient Athens and the City of Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution in 1775, a team consisting of Greek Consul General Christos Panagopoulos, the BAA, Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis, Lieutenant Governor John Kerry, Mayor of Boston Raymond Flynn, BAA Race Director Tim Kilduff, and Peter Agris of the Alpha Omega Council, created the tradition of formally presenting the BAA with olive branch wreaths to crown the winners of the Boston Marathon.

In recognition of their contributions in establishing this tradition, Alpha Omega Council President Tsitsopoulos presented a gold olive branch to Ambassador Ray Flynn, President of the 26.2 Foundation Tim Kilduff, and Nancy Agris Savage, daughter of the late Peter Agris.

The 2024 Boston Marathon Wreaths. Photo: Anastasia Petridis

The wreaths were offered in the name of Stylianos Kyriakides, a true humanitarian, patriot, and marathon champion. His 1946 Boston Marathon victory, over renowned marathoner Johnny Kelley, is still considered one of the most memorable in Boston Marathon history. Kyriakides’ goal in running the Boston Marathon was to raise awareness, funds, and medical supplies for his countrymen who were suffering from the aftermath of World War II and the Occupation. His victory and success in returning to Greece with aid represents the first charity run of the Boston Marathon.

Presently, charity runners have become an important part of the Boston Marathon and in 2023, $40.2 million was raised for more than 200 non-profit organizations. Beginning this year, the Boston Athletic Association has announced Bank of America as the presenting partner of the Boston Marathon. Bank of America also acknowledges charity runners and has created a replica of the ‘Spirit of the Marathon’ statue featuring Kyriakides, the original located at the Marathon 1 mile mark in Hopkinton, for display at this year’s Bank of America Marathon Expo, taking place Friday, April 12-Sunday, April 14 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center at 900 Boylston Street in Boston.

Tsitsopoulos and Kilduff then introduced charity runner James Condulis, 26.2 Foundation’s Team Inspire charity runner. Condulis is running in Monday’s marathon and raising funds in support of the Alpha Omega Council.

Among those present were BAA President and CEO Jack Flemming, BAA Board of Governors member Adrienne Benton, Boston City Councilor Edward Flynn, Hopkinton Board of Select Members Muriel Kramer, Amy Ritterbusch, and Mary-Jo LaFreniere; and ‘Boston Marathon Traditions & Lore’ author Paul Clerici. Former Governor Michael Dukakis and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were regrettably unavailable to attend the ceremony.

Guests enjoyed passed appetizers offered by Ithaki Restaurant and wine offered by Greek Wine Club.

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