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USA-Canada Pontian Youth Festival in Ohio Surpasses All Expectations

NEW YORK – The second annual Pontian Youth Festival of the Pan Pontian Federation of the USA-Canada was hosted by the Canton, OH Komninoi Society on Fathers’s Day weekend, June 15-17. The gathering was one of the biggest cultural events in recent memory for the Pontian Greeks in America and the Greek-American community of Ohio. {49903}
The Festival’s events were held in the cultural centers of the Holy Trinity and the St. George parishes in Canton. Federation President Dimitris Molohides, the Chairman of the Sacred Institution Panagia Sumela Pontian America and Canada, Dr. Haralambos Vasiliadis, and leaders of other Pontian associations said the festival’s success far exceeded the expectations of the Organizing Committee.{49902}
For three days, the younger generations had the opportunity to express pride in their Pontian heritage and to learn about Pontian history, including the tragic 20th century Pontian genocide. There was also instruction in dance and theater. More than 100 young men and women were joined by dozens of artists from Greece, the United States, and Canada.{49901}
The festivities began on Friday at the Cultural Center of the Holy Trinity with food and music. On Saturday there was a presentation by Nikos Michailidis titled, The Importance of Being Pontian in America Today.
Molohides said the speech was timely and intrigued the audience, particularly young people, because it tied together elements of the cultural identity of Pontians and the uniqueness of the Pontian dialect with a call to promote and preserve the community’s values and traditions.
Guests then participated in dance classes led by Joseph Kalogiannidis-Graziosi and other instructors and dance groups leaders invited by the Federation.
On Saturday evening the community of St. George hosted the Grand Banquet dance; all the dance groups performed. In recognition of the Komninoi Society’s 90th anniversary, President Steven Poulos honored its former president and several members of other associations as well as the organizing for contributions to preserving Pontian culture.
After the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, the play Mante’ in ou’sa – Made in USA” of Vasiliki Tsanaktsidis was presented which drew applause and favorable comments from the audience. Sunday afternoon also featured performances of the dance groups of numerous organizations and the events culminated with a “Pontian Night” of music and dance.
The President of the Pontian Association of Cleveland, OH Emmanuel Ermidis, expressed his joy and satisfaction to TNH over the success of all events. He called the festival one of the biggest cultural events of the last decade. In Cleveland, the number of Pontic origin Greeks is small compared to other American cities, nevertheless they are dynamic and their energy is due to their dedication to the preservation of the traditions, ethos, and customs, said Ermidis. He was born in Kazakstan but speaks Greek. His wife Marina was born in Kyrgyzstan and he said all four of my children speak Greek and dance the Pontic dances with ease.”
Ermidis told TNH that when they bought twenty traditional Pontian outfits, ten for men and ten for women, the group became very excited. “On April 28 we had great success with our annual dance and the orchestra we invited came from Toronto were so moved by the passion of children they refused to be paid. The money will now go towards the purchase of more costumes, added Ermidis.
Nikos Christoforidis, president of Toronto Pontian Brotherhood Panagia Soumela, was unable to attend but he said 75 people traveled by car and bus from Toronto. Everyone came back very excited, because the Festival was not only a great cultural event but also a school for the new generation. The Brotherhood owns the Pontian Center on Danforth Avenue, where 70 children under the direction of John Theofilaktidis learn traditional dances.
The President of the Pontian Association Komninoi New York, Stephen Amanatidis summed up everyone’s feelings: I was excited. Over 100 children in traditional costumes from all over America expressed pride in their Pontic origin. With such a new generation of the future of our club is auspicious.

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