New York’s Greek Independence Day Parade took place Sunday March 30 and in spite of less than ideal parade weather, the turnout was impressive. Thousands lined Fifth Avenue to watch the marchers on a cool, damp day to celebrate Greek heritage, and the continuation of thousands of years of culture and history, language and tradition that shaped the world as we know it. As Greece struggles economically, the parade allows Greeks of the diaspora to demonstrate solidarity and to remember the many contributions of Greeks to civilization throughout the ages.
Dressed in colorful traditional costumes, waving Greek flags, the participants marched proudly to honor those who gave their lives in the fight for Greek independence from Ottoman oppression. The parade marked the 193rd anniversary of Greek Independence, 1821-2014, traditionally commemorated on March 25.
Two grand marshals- George Tsunis, the nominated ambassador to Norway, and Senator Charles Schumer, led the way.
The Evzones, the elite Presidential Guard from Greece, always a highlight of the parade, impressed the crowd.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio marched waving a Greek flag. He commented, “I love your flag,” as he joined some young people carrying a massive flag up the parade route.
Numerous floats also appeared in the parade, carrying participants and reminding everyone of the commitment to community service and the continuing struggle for freedom. A large Cypriot contingent marched urging for the removal of Turkish troops from their divided homeland. Pontic Greeks who once resided in Asia Minor, reminded the crowd of the suffering Greek Christians endured 1914-1923. Armenians also marched in support of Greek Independence, reminding us not to forget the Armenian genocide 1915-1923.
The parade was televised on Fox sister station My 9 with co-hosts Ernie Anastos and Nicole Petallides.
Hopefully, next year the weather will match the warm disposition of the participants.
To learn more about New York’s annual Greek Independence Day Parade, check out the website for the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.
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