Philadelphia, PA – They came, stood tall, and launched an overwhelming sense of pride. The Evzones made their return to Philadelphia after nearly a generation (22 years).
The day began with Sunday morning services at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Old city Philadelphia. His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey conducted liturgy services assisted by clergy members of Philadelphia. Greece’s honor Guard led by Greek school students carrying flags of Greece, Cyprus and America took their positions at the altar during the Doxology. Dignitaries and honored guests representing the community and Greece, lined the front row while parishioners filled the church.
Under the Greek flag on 19th street and the Ben Franklin Parkway, a ceremonial singing of the Greek national Anthem, launched the parade. Twelve Evzones and a lieutenant led the way. Behind them leaders of the Greek community assembled along with the Eleftheria Medal recipients the Karabots, Grand Marshals Pamela and Tom Papadopoulos, and members of the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley.
Cheers were heard and flags waved immediately in a sea of Greeks that had swarmed nearly 10 blocks of the Parkway. Hellenic Federation officials estimated some 15,000- 20,000 were in attendance, making this one of the largest and best-remembered parades in years. With blue skies above and balmy weather, the day was perfect.
Some 50 organizations and churches from as far away as Lancaster Pennsylvania and Atlantic City New Jersey participated. Floats with churches and basketball league players and motorcycle groups participated. At the podium, the co-Emcees Judge Harry Karapalides, and Federation of Hellenic American Societies President Efstathios (Stathis) Karadonis announced each organization in English and Greek.