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Hellenic parade celebrates Greek independence in San Francisco March 30, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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Some celebrants were dressed like heroic Greek freedom fighters from the early 19th century. Others donned the colorful, festive costumes of traditional dancers.

The Hellenic Cultural Parade in downtown San Francisco on Saturday culminated a weeklong celebration of all things Greek, from music to politics, history, philosophy, religion and food.

Led by a contingent of police officers on horseback, the parade drew sparse crowds along Market Street on its way to City Hall, but the revelers’ effusive spirit and cultural icons shone through.

“This is our way to remember and celebrate,” said George Katsoulis, an Oakland resident who carried the Olympic torch in the ancient Greek city of Argos in 2004. “To commemorate Greek independence day in any way is an honor. The music, the dance, the remembrance of our ancestors.” Katsoulis strode up Market Street, holding two symbols of peace, an olive branch in one hand and an unlit Olympic torch from 2004 in the other. Christine Diacou Hay of San Francisco revealed her Greek roots by shouting “Hronia pola!” – or long life, to the torch bearer.

This year’s celebration marked the 187th anniversary of Greek independence, dating to when rebels began their fight for independence after centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.

“It was the beginning in Europe of nations waking up to self-determination, freedom, choice and democracy,” said Metropolitan Gerasimos, the head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. Gerasimos, who leads 175,000 Greek Orthodox faithful in seven Western states, wore a traditional black robe similar to those worn by Greek clergy when the church was suppressed by the Ottomans.

Jim Vorrises, Vice President of the United Hellenic Federation of California, said: “Every year we celebrate the same event, remembering the fight of our forefathers to secure independence and freedom of the Greek nation. Those people had faith in God, faith in themselves and destiny.”

This was the 10th annual celebration of its kind in San Francisco, though others said the local tradition of marking Greek independence goes back for decades.

Among the highlights of this year’s celebration was a float bearing a replica of the Acropolis, or Sacred rock, of Athens, with four Greek muses in white gowns, smiling and waving to the crowd. Another float featured a mockup of a wooden boat, variously described as the ship sailed by Ulysses. 

Near the steps of City Hall, hundreds of spectators were serenaded by a vibrant Greek solo. Dancers in ceremonial costumes from the Island of Crete performed before a reviewing stand filled with dignitaries including Xenia Stefanidou, the Consul General of Greece in San Francisco.

“They feel proud of their ethnicity,” said journalist Savas Deligiorgis, who presents a Greek American program on KVTO-AM 1400, a San Francisco radio station, “because they always fight for freedom, democracy and human rights.” Ted Giouzelis of San Leandro, who was born in Sparta and raised in Athens, praised people of Greek ancestry as “hospitable, hardworking and lovers of knowledge.” 

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Greek Independence Day Parade in Montreal, Canada March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora, Special Features.
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The Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Community of Laval, is organizing their annual March 25th Parade commemorating Greece’s Revolution in 1821 against the Ottoman Empire.

The two hour parade will start at 1 p.m. March 30, 2008. It will run along Jean Talon St., beginning at Hutchinson St. and ending at l’Acadie Blvd. This year’s grand Marshall is Tom Kostopoulos from the Montreal Canadians.

Thousands of Montrealers of Greek heritage as well as Philhellenes are going to be gathered along Jean Talon Street to salute war veterans, community leaders, but most of all Hellenic youth. The Hellenic Community invites the population of Montreal to come and join in the celebration. For any information about the parade or other festivities plan please call (514) 738-2421.

Hellenic Community of Montreal (HCM), 5777 Avenue Wilderton, Montreal, QC H3S 2V7, Tel (514) 738-2421, Fax 514 738 5466, www.hcm-chm.org

Greek National Day > more photos March 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Special Features.
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As promised in our yesterday’s post, we present herewith some additional photos from the military parade, which took place yesterday in Athens, commemorating Greece’s National Day, the Independence Day of 25th March 1821.

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Greece’s National Day celebrated > military parade March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Special Features.
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A grand military parade was hosted today in Athens, in honoring and celebrating Greece’s National Day, the Independence Day of 25th March 1821.

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More pictures will follow tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Greece’s National Day celebrated March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Special Features.
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Greeks all over the world observed today Greece’s National Day. Student parades were held in Athens on Monday 24th March, while a grand military parade has taken place today, 25th March, the salute of which was received by the President of the Hellenic Republic H.E. Karolos Papoulias.

The Greek Nation, today celebrates a dual feast, in respect of Greece’s Independence Day, when the War for Independence was declared on 25th March 1821, seeking freedom and liberty from the then Ottoman empire, and a religious major Orthodox Christian feast, the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.

Parades, both student and military, were also held in all towns of Greece and Cyprus. Some photos from these parades follow.

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Students parade in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 25th March.

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Students parade in Athens, Greece, on 24th March.

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Photos from today’s military parade in Athens, Greece, follow in the next post.