By Nick Stamatakis
Our parade on Fifth Avenue yesterday was truly a Celebration, a demonstration and a big party just like Helleniscope had called it! Two weeks ago Helleniscope was a very lonely voice in trying to bring some excitement to an event that is at the heart of NYC’s Greek-American community. After two-plus years of pandemic interlude, after several internal organizational issues, most media and even the leaders of the parade were quite pessimistic: “Oh, the Evzones will not be here”, “oh, we will not have people”, etc etc…” We refused to accept the “prescribed failure”. We wrote an inspired editorial about the true meaning of the parade and we intervened successfully bringing in Bill Mataragas of HANC to make sure the Evzones would be present – and they were!
We mentioned in that editorial of May 21st that we will pray to Saint Nicholas for good weather. We did and, I must say, Saint Nicholas listened to our prayers!! It was a wonderful sunny Sunday, with not a little cloud in the sky, 70 degrees and dry: The weather could not have been any better!!
As I was walking for a few blocks from the parking garage to 5th Avenue I saw the first good omen: I was walking on the same sidewalk with several Greek families including their young ones ages 3-8 years old!! A bunch of kids holding their flags, some dressed in traditional dresses, going to the parade! I have been to many parades at the end of March and have never seen such a wonderful spectacle!!
As you will see in the 40 photos below (in the second part of this post) it was the youth that stole the show in this parade!! I already checked next year’s calendar: Easter is on April 16 – and it would be an absolute necessity to have the parade on one of the weekends after Easter!! I have said many times before that we can celebrate the “double holiday” on March 25th, in churches and dining halls and theaters and auditoriums. But the parade’s main goal is to reproduce a sense of identity for the younger generations and to be a showcase of our community to the wider society.
PHOTO BELOW: Lou Katsos with Bill Mataragas
PHOTO: Philip Christopher with Dimitris Gonias in charge of the Hilton Gala
Helleniscope will present a full “critique” of our parade in a separate article where we will make suggestions for the future – to the new generation of leaders who will hopefully take charge at the Federation of Hellenic Societies of NY. For now, let’s just note the following:
- Measured by the crowds of participants this was among the best parades in history. Not so regarding the numbers of spectators.
- The presence of the Evzones did give a special symbolic tone and they are irreplaceable! Whoever thought it was “OK” to have a parade without them needs to learn their lesson!!
- Those who actively undermined the organization of the parade, trying to prove that only the “experts” (in exploitation for personal benefit) are able to organize it have lost the game once and for all!
- The Archdiocese, a religious institution, CANNOT be in charge of organizing the parade. This is a modern secular society and the church has to be separate from secular affairs… The parade will remain with the Federation – any other organization wanting to help is welcome!
- Please do not anyone at GOARCH – who is under TWO FEDERAL CRIMINAL PROBES – tell me that there are internal problems at the Federation!
Photo: Dimitris Kalamaras, looking happy overseeing a successful parade…
I will write the full accounting of the parade soon… But let’s take a look at some photos now, starting with the spectacular participation of the younger generations!!
THE PARADE STARTED WITH THE GREEK AIR FORCE BAND AND THE EVZONES
PHOTO BELOW: Two presidents with 50 years of history each in the community, at the Grand Stand, Theodore Pavlakos of the Panlaconian Federation and Bill Mataragas of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC).
ABOUT 40 PHOTOS OF THE YOUNGSTERS WHO FILLED FIFTH AVENUE DRESSED IN WHITE AND BLUE!!
AMONG THE MANY YOUNG MEN AND LADIES NICHOLAS STAMATAKIS, my second- born son, a valedictorian, and an all-around great Greek-American teenager, marching with Saint Paraskevi, Greenlawn! A very proud moment!
THE CRETANS WERE ALWAYS FIRST IN KEEPING THE CULTURAL TRADITIONS
BELOW THE YOUTH OF PARAMUS (SAINT ATHANASIOS – GOYA) DANCE PENTOZALI ON FIFTH AVENUE AND MAKE ALL OF US PROUD!…. One more reason to have the parade in May – we should fill it with music and dance!!
THE BIKERS’ GROUP “LEVENDES” AT THE PARADE
PHOTO BELOW – Police officers Koutsoulidakis and Irene Prentzas
BELOW: YOUTH HAS NO AGE
Yiannis Nikolopoulos dressed as Karaiskakis
And Nikos Diamanitidis riding an antique car…