Chicago’s Maria Pappas Rings in New Year with Greek Tradition

The National Herald Archive

Longtime Cook County State Treasurer Maria Pappas shares the Greek tradition in Chicago, inviting the Windy City's community to join her in the cutting of this year's vasilopita.

CHICAGO – The Windy City’s Greek-Americans and their friends welcomed 2020 with tradition. At the Cook County Treasurer’s Office, longtime Treasurer Maria Pappas was joined by His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael and Consul General of Greece Ekaterina Dimakis, who welcomed guests with carols and vasilopita cutting.

“Today, I would like to give it up for the Greek Americans who built this city: the Kamberos, Tomaras, Sotos, Giannoulias, Zervas, Spyropoulos, Drakoulis [families]…and the list goes on and on,” Pappas said, and added, “in the great diversity of the city, county, and state, is the ethnocentricity and the racial makeup that makes us so proud of not only who we are, but the traditions that we carry on,” she said.

During the event, His Eminence distributed large vasilopita pieces to an eager crowd waiting to see who would have extra good fortune in 2020.

Participating in the celebration were President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Toni Preckwinkle and the State's Attorney Kim Foxx, among other elected officials, consuls general, Honorary Cook County Deputy Treasurers, and community leaders.

Among those whose vasilopita piece contained a lucky coin were real estate attorney Pam Visvardis and Hellenic American Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides.

"This celebration is a serious, yet festive way to welcome the New Year to the County Building," Pappas said.

A popular and beloved personality in Chicago’s political scene, Pappas has served as Cook County Treasurer since 1998. Pappas and her team oversee the second-largest property tax collection and distribution system in the United States. Her office is responsible for the collection of some $12 billion in property taxes for over 1.8 million parcels of property, as well as the distribution of tax funds to nearly 2,2000 local government agencies including school districts, public health agencies, and forest preserve systems, according to the Cook County Treasurer’s Office.