BOSTON, MA – The 22nd annual Greek Independence Parade of Boston, scheduled for April 3, was canceled due to inclement weather, including snow, cold, and wind.
Unseasonably cold temperatures, coupled with snow and high winds forced the organizers of the Federation of the Hellenic American Societies of New England, in consultation with city and law enforcement authorities, to cancel the Parade.
Federation Public Relations Committee Chairman Bill Kafkas told TNH that “it was a painful decision to cancel the Parade after all the preparations and efforts, but it had to be done for safety reasons because of strong winds in Boston and the cold temperatures.”
Many ecclesiastical communities and ethnic societies began calling the Federation’s officials early that morning canceling their participation in the Parade.
That morning, a doxology was offered at the Annunciation Cathedral of Boston for Greece’s independence where Iphigenia Kanara Consul General of Greece in Boston addressed the congregation about the significance of the historic events of March 25th, 1821, resulting in the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.
On the evening before, over 300 guests attended the Federation’s annual gala dinner, held at the Newton Marriott, where the Federation presented its Freedom Award to Dr. Maria Koulmanda, a prominent researcher and professor at Harvard University. Dr. Koulmanda spoke about the dynamics of the Greek Revolution and touched upon the challenges that Greece faces today with its dire economic situations and the migration crisis. She said that coming from the island of Lesbos. We know firsthand about refugees because our people went through it with the catastrophe of Smyrna, Asia Minor, Pontos, Imbros, and Tenedos. Koulmanda is the first recipient of the Freedom Award.
Four scholarships were awarded to Greek-American College students. Demos Kaisaris received the Federation’s scholarship; Haralampos Exarchopoulos received the scholarship of the late Dr. Constantine Hionidis who had served as Federation President, and Demetra Tsitsopoulos and Elefteria Horiatis received the Harry Katis Scholarship. Former Federal President Vasilios Kafkas was emcee. Music was provided by Ta Deilina orchestra.
On April 1, the annual ceremony of the Greek Independence Day took place at the State House of Massachusetts, sponsored by members of the Massachusetts Great and General Court in conjunction with the Federation.
Efthalia Pelekoudas, an eighth grade student at the Day Hellenic American School of Lowell read her easy from the competition “Ionnis Kapodistrias and the Creation of the Greek Nation.” Traditional Greek dances were performed by the students, directed by their teacher Maria Booras.
An official recognition was presented on the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Pontian Genocide to Peter Petridis, president of the Panagia Soumela Society of Boston and Eleni Athanasiadou, President of the Pontiaki Estia Society of Boston.
A special recognition was presented to Nikolaos and Anastasia Kanaloupitis for their generosity to the Federation of the Hellenic-American Societies.
The choir of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology chanted hymns and sang traditional songs.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo delivered warm remarks about Greece. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, a Greek-American, coordinated the event.
Consul General of Greece Iphigenia Kanara said “I am here to pay tribute to an important moment in our nation’s history.” Greeks rose up 195 years ago “against the oppression of the Ottoman’s to reinstate one of the world’s preeminent nations. In doing so, they safeguarded not only their ancient heritage, but also the legacy of Western principles, those principles that have united our two nations for nearly 200 years.
“Just as the American Revolution, the Greek Revolution inspired Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Volunteers came from every part of Greece, but also from every part of the globe, including the United States. Some of the most famous and dedicated soldiers of the Greek War for Independence came from right here in New England.
“These revolutionaries gave their lives to protect not only their homeland, but also the land where Western civilization was conceived and where our common democratic values were in need of defense.”
After the State House ceremony, Kanara hosted a reception at the Consulate, nearby.