On Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Philadelphia Chapter, “Atheras,” hosted the last and by far the largest dance on the East Coast before lent. Held in the Danielle Kousoulis Center Hall of Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill, NJ, over 600 families, friends, and societies from all over the east coast packed the hall. Like the Panigiri festivals Ikaria is known for, the dance became a definitive panigiri of its own.

It was clear the mobbed crowd was ready to shake a party like no other after two years of covid cancellations of this signature event. They were not disappointed. The overflow crowd was treated to the music of Sergianni featuring Angeliki Psoni on vocals and violinist Stavros Skyrianos. It was a tribute and thanks from the Icarians to the community for years of event support. Well into the morning, the orchestra played for 9 hours, literally non-stop.

Kalliope Kokolis. The chapter’s first female President stated, “Our goal was to let our collective hair down and remind people of the power of societies, as well as to promote our upcoming Pan Icarian Supreme Convention this coming Labor Day weekend on September 1-4, 2023 at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia. People worldwide will be here during that time, and we expect thousands of attendees at the Saturday and Sunday evening dances. This evening’s smash success is a kickoff to these upcoming Ikarian Glendis. We thank everyone for attending, dancing, and enjoying the violin sounds at this special panigiri.”

Philadelphia Federation President Georgia Chletcos and her board were present and talked up the upcoming parade. They spread the word on the April 2 parade, featuring the President Guard of Greece, the Evzones again. Recognized with overwhelming applause was last year’s Eleftheria Award recipient George Horiates, an institution in these parts, as a former past president of the federation, Pan Icarian Brotherhood, and of course, the Order of AHEPA. Also, the announcement of the Eleftheria Medal recipient, Her Excellency Alexandra Papadopoulou, and the Grand Marshal, United States Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, was met with loud cheers.

With its Lifetime Achievement Awards, the chapter honored two stalwart lifetime members, John Pasamihalis and Theodore Pasamihalis. These two men took leadership roles in developing the local chapter clubhouse in Pennsauken, NJ, a hub of Icarian and Philadelphia activities for many years. The brothers were pleasantly surprised and even shed a few tears at the outpouring of appreciation from the packed crowd.

Dance chair Theologos Horiates added, “I am amazed how this dance is so appreciated for what it is, a community experience. With local attendees, other societies attending, and people from Connecticut and New York down to Baltimore, and Virginia, I am thrilled we got the opportunity to kick off the Icarian Supreme Convention Year in an overwhelming fashion. We expect 10,000 people to join us at the Supreme Convention. You haven’t seen anything if you have not experienced the convention dances. Tonight is a harbinger of things to come. Massive panigiria await, and this was a fabulous start.”

Panigiria indeed. Check out what will be the most significant dances in North America, coming to you on Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia at ikariaphilly.com.