Tag Archives: Greek Independence

Greek Independence Turns 5th Ave. Blue

27 Mar
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Greek Presidential Guard, Evzones

The threat of rain didn’t put a damper on the spirits of thousands of Greeks lining the parade route on 5th Avenue and waving their blue and white flags in celebration of their 196th year of Independence.  This parade claims to be the largest celebration outside of Greece and is televised both locally and internationally to millions of viewers back in the homeland of Greece.  A stage and grandstand on 68th St. were set for parade VIPs, Grand Marshalls and Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  Parade founders, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, have been doing a great job for the last 79 years in organizing the many groups and churches in putting on a joyful event.  As always, the mounted police signal the start of the parade soon followed by parade VIPs, Mayor DiBlasio, NY Senator Schumer and Grand Marshall Ivan Savvidis and Dr. George Yancopoulos.  One of the perennial favorites is the Greek Presidential Guard, Evzones, marching with their distinctive uniforms and high step march.

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Senator Schumer, Archbishop Demetrios and Mayor DiBlasio

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Traditional Costumers

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Celebrating Tradition

     Traditional costumes was displayed by the Greek American Folklore Society. Greeks are a very religious people and many Greek Orthodox Churches in the Tri-State area send their representatives to the parade. Many Greek regional groups including Cyprians and Cretians had a large presence and were very boastful. Of course, it’s not a parade unless there’s a marching band. The All-City marching Band was one of the first bands to make their way on to the parade route. It’s always great to see members of St. Nicholas Church, a small church directly on Ground Zero that remained intact.  A new group that made a nice impression was Eponoah with traditional costumes and music. They were soon followed by another perennial favorite, the Plato School Marching Band from Brooklyn. They’re always fun to watch. Back on the main stage, a young group of traditional dancers showed off their moves to the delight of the viewers.  This was a fun parade to watch and had to make my way to Uncle Nick’s Greek Cuisine on 29th and 8th Ave for some delicious Greek food.

Greek Unity Abound on 5th Ave.

11 Apr

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5th Ave. was turned into a sea of blue and white flags as thousands of Greek-Americans came out on a brisk Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 195th anniversary of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. This the largest gathering of Greek Americans outside Greece to honor and respect Orthodoxy, Hellenism and Greek contribution to America. A large contingency from Greece always make their way to the parade as a show of unity with the motherland. The mounted police signaled the start of the parade soon followed by parade organizers, VIPs and the lead band, The Pluto School Marching Band from Brooklyn. This year’s Grand Marshall was Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the head of Greece’s new Democracy opposition party and honoree Alex Scarlatos, who prevented a terrorist attack in Europe last year.

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The crowd was treated to an annual treat when the Presidential Guards, Evzones, with their unique march made their way up the parade route from 64th to 79th Sts.  They stopped by the grandstand on 67th St. and participated in both the American and Greek National anthems. Another group with a large following is the Greek American Folkloric Society with their traditional attire. The group keeps getting larger and better each year.  The second  half of the parade included a large group of Cyprian nationality, groups from Canada and Washington DC. Orthodox Churches from the Tri-state area sent their representatives to march in the festive parade. A group of traditional dancers took the stage by the grandstand and showed off their moves to the delight of the crowd. They weren’t far from the stage of the televised broadcast where NY TV personality Ernie Anastos anchored the event. The parade is also televised to thousands of viewers in Greece.  I’m pretty sure they were looking on with lots of joy, love and happiness in their hearts knowing that New Yorkers carry on the tradition and culture from Greece.

Long Live Greece.

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See you next year.

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