By Argyris S. Argitakos
NEW YORK, NY – AHEPA Empire State District Six and the Manhattan-based AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25, upon the occasion of the Hellenic Flag raising at Bowling Green in Manhattan on March 24, 2021, reenacted the First Hellenic Independence Day Parade in New York held on April 6, 1893.
Following the Hellenic flag raising at Bowling Green, members of AHEPA Empire State District 6 and the Manhattan-based AHEPA Delphi Chapter #25, (the largest District and Chapter, respectively, in AHEPA’s national and international domain) reenacted the original Hellenic Independence Day Parade that took place on April 6, 1893 (and also in 1894, etc.) in the downtown Manhattan Broadway -City Hall area.
On that day 300 Hellenes marched on Broadway by way of Chambers Street to City Hall. Then New York City Mayor Thomas Gilroy allowed the Hellenic Flag to be flown over City Hall with a flag also raised by the Hellenes over nearby Reiner Hall at 475 Pearl St. Solon J. Vlastos, the President of the Brotherhood of Athena (the first Hellenic fraternal society in New York), who also later in 1894 founded the Atlantis newspaper, helped make the arrangements in a letter to the mayor he wrote that “on the Acropolis of Athens, above the noble ruins of the Parthenon, every Fourth of July, the Stars and Stripes float as a remembrance of the debt of Greece to America.” This was the very beginning of the grand Greek Independence Day Parade which later became an annual event along Fifth Avenue and the largest Hellenic Independence Parade in the world. [Regrettably, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade has not been held in 2020 and 2021]. The press reported at the time that “it was a great day for the Greeks of New York.” It was reported in the April 6 editions of the New York Times, the New York Herald, the New York Daily Tribute, the New York World, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Note: In 1891 about 450 members of the Brotherhood of Athena, the first Hellenic fraternity in New York, raised funds to establish the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Among several AHEPA Brothers that were present during the March 24, 2021, Hellenic Flag raising event were AHEPA Supreme Vice President Jimmy Kokotas, AHEPA Empire State District Six Governor Louis Katsos, District Six Marshal Paul Macropoulos, District Six Director of Operations & Family Excellence Anastasios Stampolis, President of the Delphi Chapter Theodore P. Klingos, Past Presidents of Delphi Chapter #25 Michael Papaphotes and Argyris S. Argitakos, as well as several members of Delphi Chapter #25.