Once again, the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Wyckoff, NJ, opened its doors to the community, in an effort to celebrate its 35th festival. Thousands came out to support the Greek festival from the surrounding areas which has left parish council president, Nick Pirsos overjoyed.
“I think what helps us get a wide attraction is each year, we donate 10% of all the net profits to outreach programs in Greece, nationally and locally. It’s not only Greek charities that we support but also our local charities like our local ambulance and fire department. We try to embrace all cultures and communities,” Pirsos said.
The festival took a break for a few years but was resurrected five years ago. Ever since the festival has over 350 volunteers, which include the youth and parishioners from other local parishes. Each year, it gets easier and easier to attract volunteers because of the amount of fun and the sense of community that helps bring everyone together for the church. It has even been ranked top three events in Bergen County by 201 Magazine.
“We start everyone with our church tours as it all starts with our Greek Orthodox faith. From there, we introduce the community to our Greek culture, and we offer them Greek food, wine, and dance. Our wine tent features wines from all over Greece. We have indoor and outdoor dining. Indoors, you will find our Greek classics and outdoors you will find gyro and our Greek take on French fries,” Pirsos said.
Visiting the church, you are welcomed by the beautiful stain glass windows and mosaics. The church was built in the late 1960s with a contemporary design that allows you to see everything that is taking place throughout the liturgy. Within the church, there is an “Ekklisaki” that was built and dedicated to all mothers who have lost children just as the Theotokos lost her son. The “Ekklisaki” was built in the 1980s by two Italian artisans. John Spilio outlined the iconography and Bruno Salvatore was the mosaicist.
“We give tours for people to learn about our rich Orthodox tradition and Christianity. We tend to use mostly English in the liturgy because we have many interfaith and intercultural couples. But we also use Greek. There are about 400 households here now, several ministries and programs, which include grief groups, men’s reading fellowship, women’s reading fellowship, and bible study. We also have AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles, Philoptochos, GOYA and senior groups. Most importantly, we have the relics of St. Nicholas at the altar. They were given to the first priest here, Father Nicholas Xathias who was the pastor in the late 60s and early 70. We take them out at the vespers of St. Nicholas and sometimes for the tours,” Father Bill Gikas remarked.
Toni Gasparis, Evi Manoussakis and Catherine Zymaris, the youth behind the church’s social media outreach program, shared with the Hellenic News of America how excited they are to participate in the festival year after year. “It’s all about being a family and coming together as a community to support our church and fundraise in order to keep all of the great ministries that we have here going,” Catherine Zymaris expressed.
What’s the number one selling item from the welcome booth? A T-shirt that says, “Everything’s betta with a little feta!”
The festival took place from September 20-22, 2019.