Maryland Celebrates Greek Independence Day
by Georgia Vavas and Joanne Trikoulis
Graced with the beautiful sound of the Hellenic Philharmonic Society Band of New York under the direction of Spiros Svolakos, spectators from across the Mid-Atlantic region were deeply moved in celebration honoring our ancestor’s sacrifices in preserving the ideals of Freedom and Democracy. More importantly, they witnessed the pride of so many of the Greek youth marching to showcase their Greek heritage, its rich and ever so significant history and the great ideals passed on and shared with the rest of the world from our beautiful country.
The Parade was led by this year’s Grand Marshal, Michael Pantelides, the Greek-American Mayor of Annapolis, along with other distinguished dignitaries including Retired U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes, and Aris Melissaratos, Dean, Brown School of Business and Leadership, StevensonUniversity as well as Baltimore elected officials. A proclamation issued by the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was read on her behalf by her Chief of Staff, Greek-American, Kaliope Parthemos. The groups this year included the Greek Schools and Dance Troupes dressed in their ethnic costumes and the coveted colors, blue and white, waving their Greek flags, as well as representatives of chapters of the AHEPA and Daughters of Penelope and members from all the Greek Orthodox Church Communities of Baltimore, Washington DC and Virginia, along with many societies representing various regions and islands of Greece.
Especially beautiful were the floats which included some of the most iconic female figures of our Greek History, the “Heroines of the Hellenic Revolution of 1821” and the “Float of Regions,” with ethnically dressed girls from each region of Greece, along with Ms. Hellas, Ms. Eleutheria (Liberty), and Ms. Maryland, for it is a double celebration for Maryland on March 25th as it is Maryland Day as well as our Greek Independence Day. All the way from Pennsylvania, the Myrmidons, an ancient Greek Warrior re-enactment group, illustrated their revered skills as the brave warriors of Achilles. They were joined by other Hellenic warriors, the Ithacans from WashingtonDC and Spartans from Baltimore. The epilogue of the Parade was the march of a group of young men from Maryland, who trained for many months under the supervision of Stavros Katsas, a former member of the Hellenic Presidential Guard, to offer the spectators a depiction of the ceremonies performed by the historical elite light infantry, also known as the “Evzones” followed by the Laying of the Wreaths by the Hellenic Defense Attache, Col. Evangelos Papadopoulos, AHI President, Nick Larigakis and other distinguished dignitaries as well a members of the Greek Orthodox Clergy and the Parade Committee.
Congratulations to the dedicated Maryland Greek Independence Day Parade Committee for their hard work and leadership in making this year’s event a huge success. For more information their website is greekparade.com