Philadelphia, PA – A Yia sas and hand wave we’re gestured to the crowd by his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, who concluded the Greek Independence Parade 2018 in Philadelphia yesterday, along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He quoted the longtime TV show host George Burlotos, who ran the Greek Spirit for some 34 years and was honored this past week with the Eleftheria Medal. Burlotos, who retired this past year, was driven down the parkway during the parade to cheers from the Greek American community who thanked him for his years of service. The parade was sponsored by the Federation of Hellenic American Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley.

On Sunday morning the Greek Independence Day parade started with the doxology service at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Elkins Park, PA. Dignitaries and guests from New York and Greece attended the service which was being performed by his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey. Following church services, a police-escorted convoy of guests drove down Broad Street from the church and arrived on the parkway where the parade was being broadcast live via Cosmos Philly. It launched again at Logan Circle and stopped briefly on the Parkway where the Greek flag was posted for a formal ceremony.

Minutes later, the parade launched, led by Greek military and consulate members, marching alongside his Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos. Arriving at the grandstand, they were introduced by His Honor, Judge Harry Karapalides, who has been doing the introductions for many years now. The Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington performed the national anthems of Greece and the United States. “Shall we start the parade now?”, yelled Karapalides.

A DJ then kicked off the afternoon parade that finally saw the sun come out, just at the start of the event. Some 35 organizations, churches, and clubs from the Philadelphia area participated. Some additional churches from Trenton, Atlantic City, and Bethlehem, PA participated as well adding to the event.

Everywhere you looked, from floats to banners and flags being posted, the theme rang out, “Macedonia is Greek.” Greece and its diaspora communities around the world have been battling an attempt by FYROM, its neighbor to the north, to usurp the name again. Around the world, Greeks are demonstrating against this, and in Philadelphia, it became the theme for this year’s annual Greek Independence Day Parade. Echoing that topic, the day was capped off by a series of dances, performed in front of the grandstand by the Pan-Macedonian Society of Philadelphia.