Greeks Unite in Celebration on 5th Ave.

9 Apr

Greek Guards Evzones

     Large crowds turned out this year for the 75th annual Greek Independence Day parade this past Sunday on 5th Ave.  This is the largest Greek heritage celebration in the US with thousands of spectators and marchers all throughout the tri-state area coming to wave their flags and show their Greek pride. In celebration of the 192nd anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire, the NYC parade is generally after the first weekend after March 25 as that is the actual date Greece designated as National Day. This year, however, Easter came early and the parade had to be moved to the following weekend which actually turned out to be better since the weather was warmer after a chilly March. The crowd began waving their blue flags as the mounted police signaled the start of the parade. The NYPD Marching band led the way for both Greek and NYC dignitaries including the Honorable Mayor Bloomberg and Archbishop Demetrios up to the reviewing stand by 68th St. Even US Senator Chuck Schumer mixed it up abit with parade organizer John Catsimatidis. The parade was broadcast live to the domestic audience and back to Greece for millions more to watch. Once the parade VIPs and dignitaries made their way to the reviewing stand, then the fun began. The Greek School of Plato from Brooklyn announced the entrance of parade favorite, the National Greek Guards or Ezvones, with their traditional uniform and signature march.   The crowd went nuts. Keeping in line with traditional Greek culture came the Greek Folkloric Society with traditional costume and music. Right behind them were another crowd favorite, the Greek Warriors with traditional helmets, spears, and shields..of course they were strategically placed in the parade to protect the Greek beauty queens float from anyone attempting to hop on the float without permission.

Archbishop DemetriusGreek Folkloric SocietyGreek Warriors

The Greeks are a religious people and many of the remaining marchers had some affiliation with a particular church from their area. Orthodox Churches were represented from all the 5 boroughs, upstate NY and Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. One notable church was a little one , St. Nicholas Church, which was directly across from one of the Twin Towers. The priest carried the remaining relic of a picture of St. Nicholas which always reminds me of the persevering spirit of man and the love of God. Many schools of Greek heritage and college affiliations marched with some even stopping to sing the Greek national anthem with pride. As a sign of unity, representatives from Crete and Cyprus marched up 5th Ave. waving flags and dressed in traditional costume. I couldn’t tell them apart from the Greek costumes but I’m sure people from that part of the world could. All in all it was a festive crowd with lots to cheer for as the Greek economy is still rebounding and many people back home are still hurting. I’m sure anyone watching the parade in Athens would know that the Greek pride and tradition are still alive and well in the Big Apple.

Sen Schumer and Parade LeaderNYPD Greek OfficerGreek Gal with her poochPlato School BandGreek Guards under InspectionEvzones wannabe carrying bannerTraditional Greek musiciansKids in traditional costumeGreek WarriorsSchool children marchingSt.Nicholas Church from Ground ZeroGreeks of Queens CollegeCretian SectionTraditional Cyprean costumeGreek and Cyprus flag waversPancyprean sectionWaiting to marchGreek Beauty Queen

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