Philadelphia, PA – On Sunday afternoon, the Ben Franklin Parkway was a sea of blue and white as the Greek community of Philadelphia celebrated Independence Day. Thousands of Hellenes participated and celebrated the 193 anniversary of the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.
The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley hosted the weekend celebrations, that included the Eleftheria pre-parade dinner, the annual march along the parkway and the performances that closed out the evening at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church in Upper Darby.
The Eleftheria Medal was inaugurated for the 1st time on Saturday afternoon to Rev’d Demetrios J. Constantelos Ph.D., D.D. at Adelphia restaurant, at the pre-parade dinner. The Grand Marshals of the parade were also recognized. The Greek school teachers from the metropolitan area were each honored with a plaque and led their respective churches at the parade the following day.
Also present as honorary Grand Marshals were, Joanne Saltas, Grand President of the Daughters of Penelope and Phillip Frangos, Supreme Vice-President of the Order of AHEPA. Representatives, from Power District 4 of Pennsylvania came in from Pittsburgh along with Greece and Cyprus Consul General offices.
On Sunday, the honored guests attended the Doxology services at St. George Cathedral in old city Philadelphia, where GOYA members from St. Thomas came in carrying the flags of Greece, USA, and Cyprus. His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey hosted the services.
Standing under the flag of Greece along the parkway, the Federation and its organizations conducted a ceremony that kicked off the beginning of the parade. Wave after wave of churches and societies and even a marching a band followed in blue and white. Stathis Karandonis, President of the Federation and Harry Karapalides, advisor, provided the colorful historical description of each group in Greek and in English.
The Youth of Alexander the Great Spirit of Macedonia Dance group had the honor of performing traditional dances for the crowd and closing out the parade in front of the main stage. Kosmas Yiantsos led the dancers and raised a blue and white flag triumphantly signaling the conclusion of the parade and symbolizing the liberation of Greece. Fellow members of the Pan-Macedonian Association of Greater Philadelphia and the crowd looked on and cheered. Zito i Ellas!