Philadelphia, PA – When the numbers were finally tallied, more than ten thousand participated and celebrated Greek Independence Day along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Vice President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies, George Horiatis said, that more than twelve thousand were actually in attendance. From as far away as Greece, Utah, Washington, Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago, Greek representatives marched with the Philadelphia metropolitan Greek community.
The weekend series of events started at St. Thomas Greek Orthodox church, where the Greek School community put on an Independence Day performance, which included, poems, songs and dance.
Later that evening, the Federation of Hellenic -American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley, hosted it’s annual pre-parade dinner dance, now titled the Eleftheria Dinner. The event was highlighted by a presentation of the Eleftheria Medal to Rev’d Demetrios J. Constantelos Ph.D.,D.D., that was awarded by Rev’d Emmanuel Pratsinakis of St. Thomas.
On Sunday, Doxology services were hosted at St. George Cathedral in old city Philadelphia, which played center stage for dignitaries, clergy and the Greek community of Philadelphia. His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, conducted the services and featured children dressed in traditional folk attire carrying the flags of Greece, Cyprus and the United States.
Following lunch, masses of Greek churches, organizations and societies gathered to march at Logan Square, along the parkway that kicked off with the New York marching band dressed in blue. From the podium, both in Greek and English could be heard from Stathi Karandonis, President of the Federation and advisor Harry Karapalides, announcing each group as they marched by.
More than 40 some organizations participated in the march. As they passed, a historic profile and commentary was made, signaling the crowd to cheer on. Flags of blue and white were everywhere and fans stayed throughout the event. Some even came an 1 hour early, like Harry Harozoglou of Broomall. Harozoglou comes to the parade every year before anyone gets there, hangs a big flag on the parkway in front of him, and contemplates the day before the parade begins. He said it’s one day of the year, I keep clear in honor of those that sacrificed for my freedom.
The Youth of Alexander the Great Spirit of Macedonia Dance group closed out the parade with a series of dances in front of the main stage. A blue and white flag was raised triumphantly by Kosmas Yiantsos, one of the dancers. As they continued to dance, fellow members of the Pan-Macedonian Association of Greater Philadelphia and the crowd looked on and cheered. Zito i Ellas!