Much like the dark clouds hovering over the economic climate in Greece, the gray clouds in New York did not get in the way of thousands of Greeks from celebrating their 191st anniversary of independence from Ottoman rule. The 74th annual Greek Independence Parade was lining up along the side streets of 5th Ave near 63rd street where the parade was getting reading to kick off. Marchers dressed in traditional costume, marching bands and the many Greek clubs and organizations were getting ready to make the parade a memorable event for all. The mounted police made their way up the parade route to announce the start of the parade. The NYPD Marching Band let the crowd know there was lots in store for the festive day. The lead marching band, the Greek School of Plato Marching Band from Brooklyn, announced the entrance of dignitaries and this years Grand Marshall, US Senator Robert Menendez and the His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. Although Sen. Menendez is of Cuban descent, he has been an advocate of for Greek and Cyprian causes and recognized in this years theme of solidarity with Greece. The parade sponsors, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, presented New York with a gift with the highly regarded Presidential Guard of the Republic of Greece – Evones.
Keeping the Greek tradition and custom alive were the Greek American Folklore Society dressed in traditional attire while followed by impressive phalanx of the Greek Warriors, equipped with shields and spears. Good thing Persians were not in attendance… it might have gotten ugly. Far from ugly were the beautiful winners of Miss Greek Independence. Bringing their solidarity was a large contingency from Canada with their lively dancing. The Cyprus Federation helped display the representatives from Cyprus and surrounding areas. Starting off the display of marching bands was the Park Ridge Marching band followed by the Plato Marching Band. Always a treat to see perform are the all drum band from Mother Cabrini. New to the parade is the Humanities and the Arts HS MB and they did not disappoint. Also new to the parade were students from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. What an amazing experience it must have been for them to visit the Big Apple for the first time. One of the best things to see is how many of the surrounding tri-state churches, schools and organizations display Greek pride and passing on the culture and tradition to the young ones. The event was telecast back to the Republic of Greece with much anticipation that the good spirit of the parade in NY will help demonstrate the solidarity Greek New Yorkers have with the suffering motherland. Looking at how the parade turned out, it may have brought some light to a gloomy situation.