The Daily Plant : Wednesday, April 2, 2003
MY BIG FAT GREEK INDEPENDENCE PARADE
On Sunday, March 30, 2003, there was a large-scale invasion of Greeks in New York City. Thousands of Greeks braved the bone chilling cold, severe wind gusts, freezing rain and wet snow to march in a parade up Fifth Avenue. The parade was a celebration of Greek independence from four hundred years of oppression under the Ottoman Empire. Inspired by the American and French Revolutions of the late eighteenth century, the declaration of independence was made on March 25, 1821. March 25th is also the religious observance of the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, so this date carries a double significance for political and religious reasons.
It was very interesting to attend a parade that commemorated two centuries of freedom from an oppressive regime, while U.S. and British troops are currently attempting to liberate Iraq from a similar situation. Furthermore, there is a frequent plea for the removal of the forced Turkish military occupation from Cyprus, and this year was no different. The plea now seems more urgent than ever before, and hopefully there will soon be a resolution to this 30-year old problem.
As a Greek-Cypriot-American, it instilled great pride to see Greek flags prominently displayed along Fifth Avenue, accompanied by marching bands playing the Greek National Anthem and people conversing in the mother tongue. According to Harry Kalas, the Parade Coordinator for the Federation of Hellenic Societies for Greater New York, "the parade was very successful." The crowd estimates were upwards of 70,000 people, and the parade itself was composed of 107 groups (parishes, schools, and civic groups), 43 motorized floats, and 25 marching bands. Although the majority of groups were from the tri-state area, some groups made the trek to Fifth Avenue from as far away as Boston and North Carolina. This was the 68th Greek Independence parade in New York City, and it is by far the largest celebration for such an important day to the Greek ethos outside of Athens. "Zito Ee Ellada!" (Long Live Greece!)
Written by Christos Haris
PARKS CELEBRATED IN SONG
"... we'll go to Greenwich, where modern men itch to be free and
Bowling Green you'll see with me, we'll bathe at Brighton the fish you'll
frighten when you're in your bathing suit so thin... I'd like a sail on
Jamaica Bay with you and fair Canarsie's Lakes we'll view..."
Rodgers & Hart, "Garrick Gaiety"
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"His own image…was no longer the reflection
of a clumsy, dirty, gray bird, ugly and offensive.
He himself was a swan! Being born in a duck yard
does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg."
Hans Christian Andersen
(April 2, 1805-1987)