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Why New York's Greek Independence Day Parade matters

New York's Greek Independence Day Parade 2014
New York's Greek Independence Day Parade 2014Eleni Sakellis

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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Evzones at the ready
Evzones at the ready Eleni Sakellis

Evzones at the ready

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. The Evzones, the elite Presidential Guard from Greece, always a highlight of the parade, impressed the crowd.

Marching Evzones
Marching Evzones Eleni Sakellis

Marching Evzones

Also known as Tsoliades in common parlance, the Evzones guard the Presidential Palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. They wear the traditional kilt known as the foustanella.

Crowd viewing the parade
Crowd viewing the parade Eleni Sakellis

Crowd viewing the parade

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.

Greek flags on Fifth Avenue
Greek flags on Fifth Avenue Eleni Sakellis

Greek flags on Fifth Avenue

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.

New York's Mayor waves the Greek flag
New York's Mayor waves the Greek flag Eleni Sakellis

New York's Mayor waves the Greek flag

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined in the festive parade atmosphere along with other dignitaries and honored guests. He marched waving a Greek flag.

Mayor de Blasio marches with Greek youth carrying the flag
Mayor de Blasio marches with Greek youth carrying the flag Eleni Sakellis

Mayor de Blasio marches with Greek youth carrying the flag

New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio commented, “I love your flag,” as he joined some young people carrying a massive flag up the parade route.

Greek Cypriots marching
Greek Cypriots marching Eleni Sakellis

Greek Cypriots marching

The struggle against oppression continues. A large Cypriot contingent marched urging for the removal of Turkish troops from their divided homeland.

Cyprus float at the parade
Cyprus float at the parade Eleni Sakellis

Cyprus float at the parade

Since 1974, Turkish troops have illegally occupied northern Cyprus. Marchers raised awareness of this forty year occupation and the human rights violations that continue to this day.

The map of Cyprus
The map of Cyprus Eleni Sakellis

The map of Cyprus

The Cyprus float at New York's Greek Independence Day Parade shows the divided nation, the occupied north drenched in blood. Participants marched for an end to the illegal occupation.

Costumed marchers at the parade
Costumed marchers at the parade Eleni Sakellis

Costumed marchers at the parade

Costumed marchers carry Greek flags up Fifth Avenue in New York's Greek Independence Day Parade to show the variety of costumes from the different regions of Greece and Cyprus.

Kolokotronis float at the Greek Independence Day Parade
Kolokotronis float at the Greek Independence Day Parade Eleni Sakellis

Kolokotronis float at the Greek Independence Day Parade

Theodoros Kolokotronis was a hero of the Greek War of Independence. The float commemorates him and his region of Greece, Arcadia, and the struggle for Greek independence which began in 1821. 

Samos float
Samos float Eleni Sakellis

Samos float

The Samos float in the Greek Independence Day Parade honors the island and its famous son, Pythagoras who of course gave the world Pythagorean theorem.

Pontion Society float at the parade
Pontion Society float at the parade Eleni Sakellis

Pontion Society float at the parade

Pontic Greeks who historically resided in Asia Minor and Anatolia, reminded the crowd of the suffering Greek Christians endured from 1914-1923.

Armenians march in solidarity with Greeks
Armenians march in solidarity with Greeks Eleni Sakellis

Armenians march in solidarity with Greeks

The parade included many groups besides Greeks and Greek-Americans. Armenians also marched in support of Greek Independence, reminding us not to forget the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923.

Fage float
Fage float Eleni Sakellis

Fage float

Corporate sponsors also appeared at the parade. The Fage float in the Greek Independence Day Parade advertised the delicious and nutritious yogurt, the #1 yogurt in Greece.