By John Apostolos

The informal group “Kali Parea” was created several years ago, by men from the St. Thomas Parish, in Cherry Hill, NJ, who enjoyed meeting, “Greek kafeneio-style,” at a local mall. They ranged in age from their ’60s into well into their ’90s, and many had a common background – they were born in Greece, and came to America while young, and prospered here in the Greater Delaware Valley.

Over the intervening years, the “Kali Parea” grew, its membership burgeoned, and they moved their weekly get-together to the basement of the St. Thomas Church, where every Wednesday, their number often exceeds 30 attendees. The attendees, whose numbers continue to grow, insist that it is, and will remain, an informal, “kafeneio-style” gathering, and not become a formal organization, although they contribute as a group to the philanthropic efforts of the Parish.

For the first time, the “Kali Parea” decided to have a luncheon, to which they would invite their spouses and guests, to enjoy their company and give them a sense of what their informal group is like.

Arrangements were made, via the work of Jerry Hanos and Jerry Karapalides with the “Adelphia” Restaurant in Deptford, NJ for the group, for which the owners Bill (Vasilis) Balis and Evelyn Balis were most generous in hosting the event on February 24, 2018.

In all, the attendees numbered 83. They were treated to a great full-service luncheon, and several speakers, including the Master of Ceremonies Jerry Karapalides (spokesman/coordinator of the “Kali Parea”), Jerry Hano (president of the St. Thomas Senior Citizens), Nick Bratis, and Harry (Bob) Kokolis. The keynote speaker was George Burlotos, who recently retired from many years’ service as the producer/host of the ethnic television program “The Greek Spirit.”

The response to the first such luncheon was very positive, and the “Kali Parea” is seriously considering about making it into an annual event.