Greek Independence Parades were abound this week, the largest and most prominently-featured being the one along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in the heart of New York City. While we devote ample coverage to that elsewhere in this edition, let us keep in mind that the United States is a big country filled with Greeks from coast to coast, and no matter where they are, not least of which north of us, in Canada, they pay tribute to Greek independence.
NORTH WILDWOOD, NJ
Celebrating on the Saturday before March 25th, Greeks assembled at the North Wildwood Recreation Center on a sun-filled day – one of the precious few in the Northeast this young spring – to celebrate Greek Independence Day, the Cape May County Herald reported.
The ceremony continued to Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and concluded at the County Complex in Court House, the Herald reported, and members of the St. Demetrios Church parish shared their thoughts, including Rev. Steven J. Vlahos, Mark Karavan, and Lestor Kantsanis. “We thank the Lord for a wonderful day and for 194 years of freedom,” Vlahos told the Herald. “This is a double holiday: the annunciation of the birth of Christ and freedom of the Kantsanis referred to Greece as being the “mother of republics,” and emphasized the historical link between Greece and the United States, including an affinity for Hellenism by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Daniel Webster.
As the blog Chicago Now reported, the weather on March 29 was “raw, windy, and misty,” but marchers and spectators alike enjoyed the Greek Independence parade celebration, along Halsted Street in Chicago’s Greektown section.
There was breaking political news amid the celebration, but it was about the politics of Chicago, not Greece. Speaking from West Loop Greek Restaurant, 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, a former candidate for Mayor of Chicago, endorsed rival and incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who previously served as President Obama’s first Chief of Staff. Fioretti said, the Chicago Tribune reported, that although he has had numerous disagreements with Emanuel, he prefers him to Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who faces a runoff with Emanuel on April 7, because “the city’s finances are a serious problem. It’s grave, and I don’t believe Mr. Garcia is ready to deal with the problems this city faces on the financial front.” Garcia was an Honorary Marshal in Sunday’s Greek Parade.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner also marched in the parade as an Honorary Marshal.
Coast to Coast means up the Northern Coast and beyond the Canadian border, as the Hellenic Greek Community of Montreal (HCGM) celebrated Greek Independence Day. Prior to the parade, a Doxology was held at the Annunciation of Our Lady Church. An array of dignitaries were among the attendees, including Consul General of Greece Nicolaos Sigalas, HCGM President Nicholas Pagonis, the Parade Grand Marshal Senator Leo Housakos, MP (House of Commons) and Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau whose father, Pierre, was Prime Minister of Canada, and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Gerry Sklavounos at the Doxology of the Annunciation of Our Lady and Greek Independence Day, at the HCGM Evangelismos tis Theotokou Church.
A sunny but chilly Jean-Talon Street (named after the first Intendant of the Colony of New France) was filled with onlookers waving the blue and white Greek flag. The Greeks of Montreal have celebrated Greek Independence in grand fashion for more than 40 years.
Not to be outdone, more than 15,000 lined the streets in Toronto for the annual parade, the Toronto Sun reported.
“It is a very important day for us to commemorate those who fight for freedom and peace to see a new Greek nation going forward,” Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) President Adonis Artemakis told the Sun. “Greece has a proud history and it’s a culture that goes back thousands of years. We are proud Greek-Canadians,” he said. The GCT via their Facebook page expressed their gratitude to the attendees of the parade and the celebration gala: “Thank you to everyone who attended! The evening was success with wonderful food, music and entertainment! Thank you to our Emcee of the evening, Peter Demangos! We appreciate the attendance of our honored guests of the evening. Our GCT traditional dance groups were a sight to see and their Greek pride lit up the room! We look forward to seeing everyone come out next year!”