In the heart of the Greek community, the aroma of sizzling meats fills the air as the Nafpaktian Society celebrates Tsiknopempti. This beloved tradition precedes the 40-day Lenten fast leading up to Easter. Named for the smoky scent that permeates the air, Tsiknopempti is a cherished occasion to indulge in a feast of grilled delicacies before the abstinence of the holy season.

This year, the Nafpaktian and Perihora Society hosted its third annual Tsiknopempti extravaganza at Lucien’s, a vibrant gathering that drew 280 guests to revel in the flavors and festivities. The event was a true community effort, with catered dishes generously donated by several esteemed local establishments, including Lucien’s, The Merion, Adelphia, Olga’s Diner, Avenue Diner, Riverwinds, Legacy Diner, Oregon Diner, Whitman Diner, Westmont Diner, and Kaminskis. In keeping with tradition, a team of grill masters expertly prepared a mouthwatering array of meats outdoors, filling the air with enticing aromas that beckoned guests to partake.

As the lively melodies of Yianni Papastefanou and his orchestra filled the venue, an energetic crowd of revelers took to the dance floor, swaying and twirling late into the night, their spirits buoyed by the infectious rhythms and the camaraderie of the occasion.

At the helm of the festivities stood Vasilios Kalavrouziotis, the President of the Nafpaktian Society, seamlessly navigating between his roles as grill master and gracious host. “Tsiknopempti is always a joyous occasion, and each year, the celebration grows more vibrant,” Kalavrouziotis remarked with a smile. “Alongside our annual dance in November, the Nafpaktian Society has established Tsiknopempti as a cornerstone event, a tradition that the entire community eagerly anticipates. It’s a testament to the revitalization of our society, which had lain dormant for years before its recent resurgence.”

Beyond the revelry, the Tsiknopempti celebration held a deeper significance, serving as a platform to raise funds for a noble cause. “One of our paramount goals as a society is to secure a bus for the special needs children of Nafpaktos,” Kalavrouziotis noted. “After consulting with the mayor of Nafpaktos, we learned that such a vehicle could greatly benefit an underserved population. Events like this allow us to generate the necessary funds, bringing us closer to making a tangible impact by delivering this much-needed resource.”

The evening also provided an opportunity to honor esteemed members and celebrate personal milestones. A surprise rendition of “Happy Birthday” erupted from the band as Taso Tasiopoulos, the society’s dedicated Secretary, was presented with a cake. “Taso is an invaluable asset to our organization, and although he typically shuns the limelight, we couldn’t let this occasion pass without celebrating him,” Kalavrouziotis remarked. “His tireless efforts as our Secretary since the club’s reorganization have been instrumental to our success. It’s only fitting that we wish him a heartfelt happy birthday among friends and fellow revelers.”

The festivities also paid tribute to Kostas Diamantis, the longtime owner of the iconic Diamond Diner and a former President of the Nafpaktian Society during its earlier iteration, who had recently retired, marking the end of an era.

As the night drew to a close, the Nafpaktian Society looked ahead to the upcoming Greek Independence Day Parade in Philadelphia on April 7th, where they will proudly march, and a summer kick-off party at Adelphia’s in early June, continuing their tradition of celebration and community engagement.