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Greek CommunityCommunity OrganizationsCyprus Takes Center Stage at This Year's Greek Parade on Fifth Avenue

Cyprus Takes Center Stage at This Year’s Greek Parade on Fifth Avenue

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Massive Participation from the Diaspora

By Fotis Kalliamakos – Special to the Hellenic News of America.

A few minutes of rain at the start of the Greek parade on Fifth Avenue in New York simply reminded attendees of the adverse weather conditions of the previous year. The rain stopped a few minutes later, and the sunshine, along with the high temperatures that followed, emphasized the blue and white colors in the heart of Manhattan. This year’s parade was particularly successful, with a significant turnout of nearly a hundred participants, while the presence of spectators was notably increased as well. Indeed, the community organizations, associations, and clubs that participated were particularly populous, extending the initially planned parade duration of over two hours to nearly double. In addition to the united community organizations, many officials from Greece were also present. Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Dendias, who was scheduled to be the Grand Marshal of this year’s parade. Unfortunately, the rapid developments in the Middle East forced Mr. Dendias to return to Athens for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council. The Minister of National Defense was officially proclaimed Grand Marshal at the customary official dinner of the parade on Saturday night at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan, and immediately thereafter departed for Greece.

This role was assumed by Greek-American NFL champion George Karlaftis and the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Cyprus, Alexis Vafiadis. Cyprus and the solemn 50th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the martyred island were at the forefront of the parade, whose soul every year is, after all, Philip Christopher, who, like the President of the Cyprus Federation of America Savvas Tsivikos, hails from Cyprus and continues to emphasize the Greek nation’s demand for the island’s liberation. The participation of Cypriot organizations and associations was significant, while the slogan “Out with the Turks from Cyprus” resonated repeatedly along Fifth Avenue.

Also present at the celebratory events were the leader of the official opposition and president of SYRIZA, Mr. Stefanos Kasselakis, the Vice President of the European People’s Party and former president of New Democracy, Evangelos Meimarakis, on behalf of the Greek Parliament, the Vice President of the Parliament, Ioannis Plakiotakis, along with him the Members of Parliament Philip Fortomas (ND), Nina Kassimati (SYRIZA), Theofilos Xanthopoulos (SYRIZA), Milena Apostolaki (PASOK), as well as the Prime Minister’s advisor and former Minister Georgios Kalantzis.

Representatives of the Greek state also attended, including the Ambassador of Greece to Washington, Ekaterini Nasika, the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Evangelos Sekeris, and the Consul General of Greece in New York Ambassador Konstantinos Konstantinou. Many distinguished members of the diaspora from all professional backgrounds either attended the official stands or marched with their hometown associations, schools of their children, or their parishes.

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Mayor of Chios, Ioannis Malafis, was also present, and in his address, he emphasized the significance of the 25th of March anniversary, highlighting the religious character of the Annunciation celebration. He praised the importance of the diaspora and referred to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Chian Federation.

The evzones of the presidential guard’s performance peaked the excitement of the attendees, followed by a parade of New York Mayor Eric Adams, who paused briefly in front of the official stand to greet Archbishop Elpidophoros, Vice President of the Parliament Mr. Plakiotakis, and the leader of the official opposition, Stefanos Kasselakis. He also greeted the majority leaders of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who, as he mentioned, comes every year to honor the Greek parade, spoke warmly again about Greece and Cyprus, conversed with Greek officials, and had the opportunity to meet Mr. Kasselakis.

Earlier, at the famous Pier Hotel, from which traditionally the parade begins, Philip Christopher thanked the participants, sponsors, and all who helped organize the parade and gave the floor to the marshals and officials. Greetings were also extended by all the aforementioned officials and MPs, as well as the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the United Nations, Ambassador Maria Michael, the Commissioner for Overseas Cypriots, Ambassador Maria Konstantinidou, Mayor of Chios Ioannis Malafis, Mike Tannousis, Peter Stavrianides, Greek-American entrepreneur Ioannis (John) Katsimatidis, and distinguished presenter Ernie Anastos. Senators Michalis Giannaris and Andreas Gounardes were particularly moved, as the former recently became a father, and the latter spoke while holding his child. Also present were the two Greek-American candidates for the European Parliament from New York, Niobe Christopoulou (ND) and Natasha Romanou (New Left). The importance of Hellenism’s unity was emphasized by Evangelos Meimarakis.

Stefanos Kasselakis, on his part, emphasized his relationship with the US Greek community, from which he himself originates, having lived in America for 21 years, and specifically New York, as he mentioned. He thanked the organizing committee, spoke warmly about Archbishop Elpidophoros, and conveyed a message of Hellenism’s unity.

While Cyprus was at the center of the speeches with the demand for justice after half a century of struggles, Drama MP Theofilos Xanthopoulos wanted to summarize the message of the 25th of March with the verses of Kostis Palamas: ‘This word I will tell you, I have no other, intoxicate me with the immortal wine of the Twenty-One!’ Jokingly about the need for a prayer for the weather, the president of the organizing committee, Philip Christopher, invited Archbishop Elpidophoros for the customary prayer at the start, as mentioned earlier, of one of the most successful events in recent years.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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