Philadelphia, PA – On a rainy Friday afternoon, Greek-Americans from around the region visited City Hall in Philadelphia for the Greek Independence Day Weekend flag raising ceremony. A proclamation given by the city of Philadelphia announced the historic weekend that was sponsored by the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley.

Greece’s Presidential Guard made its second appearance in two years as they marched into the reception hall on the second floor, followed by the Pontian Akritai of Philadelphia Dance Troupe. Led by Lieutenant Panagiotis Karkatzoulis, the Evzones stood tall against a wall of portraits. Many of the figures were famed historical figures in the making of Philadelphia and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Popi Karapalides sang both the Greek and American national anthems for the second year in a row, while Grand Marshall of the parade, Dimitris Halakos and his wife Georgia thanked the city of Philadelphia and the Greek community for giving them the honor to take part in the historic day. “It’s an incredible undertaking to put this type of event together. I am very grateful to all those that made this weekend come to fruition. And it was quite wonderful to see all the leaders of our community come out today”, said Dimitri Halakos.

Consulate General of Greece (NY) Konstantinos Koutras was also in attendance for the three-day celebrations. “There is not another place in the world, where the message of the Greek Revolution of 1821 can be better understood – Philadelphia”, said Koutras, reflecting on the moment of the proclamation. This morning at the Philadelphia Sheraton, Koutras has invited the Philadelphia Greek community leaders to a townhall-style meeting to discuss Greek matters both here in Philadelphia and Greece.

The day concluded with a visit by Greece’s Presidential Guard to St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill. There, the Akathist hymn Liturgy service was led by his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey.