Tag Archives: federation of hellenic societies of greater ny

Greeks Turn 5th Avenue into a Sea of Blue and White

16 Apr

Greek Marching Band Gets the Party Started

     The second leg of the dual parade day brought me to 5th Avenue to celebrate the 82nd annual Greek Independence Day Parade. Everywhere you looked on the parade route, from 64th to 79th streets, blue and white Greek flags were being displayed or waved. The parade coincides as close as possible to the actual date of Independence of March 25th. Hundreds of thousands of revelers turned out to celebrate this festive event which is televised locally on MY9 and internationally where millions in Greece can see the beautiful event. The crowd was really anxious to get things started and as usual the mounted police signaled the start of the parade.


Evzones Marching Up 5th Avenue


Folkloric Costumes


Proud Marcher



     Parade organizers, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, led the way to the reviewing stand on 68th street where VIPs and dignitaries captured the amazing display of Greek pride and culture. Among the honored guests were His Eminence Archbishop  Demitrios of America, Mayor Bill deBlasio, US Senator Chuch Schumer and US Rep Carolyn Maloney. This year’s Grand Marshall, George M. Marcus, was honored for his contribution to the fabric of this country. The crowd got an special treat when the Mantazros Philharmonic Society from Corfu, Greece played a marching tune. They led the way for everyone’s favorite part of the parade when the Ezvones, the Presidential Guard,  marched in unison. It really is a special part of a Greek tradition in NYC that makes this parade one of the best.



     The Greeks are a very religious people. All the Orthodox churches from the tri-state area and even Canada march in the parade with members displaying banners that commemorate the Greek Wars for Independence against the Ottoman Empire. Many floats display images of War Heroes or events that were pivotal in gaining their Independence. Several marchers wore traditional wardrobe that made you feel as though you were in the countryside on the hills of Greece.  This parade is truly a celebration of the unity of Greece and America. The best way to cap off the the double parade day was to head over to Uncle Nick’s on 9th Avenue for some delicious Greek cuisine.




Greek Flags Flutter on 5th Ave.

30 Mar


    Body length Greek flags were used for warmth as a cold north wind blew the flags stiff all along 5th Ave.  The winter like temperatures did not stop the celebration and festive mood of the 73rd annual Greek Independence Day Parade. This year marked the 190th anniversary of freedom for the independent Greek nation. Many visitors from Greece came to participate in the larges parade of its kind in North America with over 100,000 viewers expected.  Rachel and I couldn’t help but notice all the colorful traditional costumes worn by the marchers.  Everywhere we looked there was a different costume and Rachel’s curious nature took over and she disappeared to take some  great photos of the event.  The pre-parade buzz was kicking into high gear mostly because of the bone chilling wind that made people huddle together for warmth while children in traditional Greek attire were jumping up and down. One young man I noticed was struggling to hold a banner straight. The tapestry on the banner was quite unique so I asked him what it represented. He said that was a duplicate of the banner raised by Alexander Ypsilanti in defiance of the Ottomans in 1821. The orginal banner is a national symbol of freedom and was on loan for the parade in Chicago. Lucky them.



      To the relief of many of the marchers, the parade began with mounted police riding up 5th Ave followed by the NYPD marching band and parade Grand Marshalls Demitris Kastnas, Dr. William Tenet and the Hellenic Caucus of the 112th Congress represented by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis. A large applause was heard for His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. The parade sponsor’s President Elias Tsekerides of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater NY soon followed with the Consul General from Greece and Cyprus nearby.  Then the fun really started.  Awaiting their turn to march were the crowd pleasing Presidential Guard of Greece, the iconic ceremonial unit whose traditional uniform includes a kilt-like fustanella. Their famous high step march drew loud cheers from the crowd. Another crowd pleaser were the Greek American Folklore Society with their decorative traditional attire and the Olympic Dancers from Pittsburgh showing off their victory dance passed down from times of war.

       Watching living history right before your eyes is always a treat for young and old alike and none was more  evident than the Greek Warriors marching as a formidable unit with spears, shield, and helmets as though they were off to battle Persians or protect the lovely princess, Miss Greek Independence,  on the float behind them.  All the marchers were announced prior to arriving at the reviewing stand. The dual purpose was for the live broadcast to both the New York area and back to Greece and also to be reviewed by Archbishop Demetrios. Some floats that followed depicted events and notable figures of the War for Independence against the Turks while others boasted about Greece’s contribution to Western civilization. One interesting float claims the first computer was built in Greece over 2000 years ago–Google it. Altogether 42 floats, 16 marching bands and many Greek and Cyprus associations and churches throughout the tri-state region marched up 5th Ave. waving their flags proudly.  Rachel caught up with me at the end of the parade route where we both noticed the look of elation on an in-line skater draped in a Greek flag. But what brought smiles to everyone was the enthusiasm shown by a little boy of no more than 4 years old walking alone waving his flag and screaming in Greek… Happy Independence Day everyone.


 For more pictures check out the “Photograhs”  links  and also


Next parades:

Saturday April 9th. Tartan Day Parade. 6th Ave. 44th St 2pm. 

Sunday April 10th. Persian Parade. Madison Ave. and 38th St. noon

Sunday April 24th. Easter Promenade. 5th Ave. 49th St 10am.

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