DIASPORA

Greek Independence Day parade in Boston draws crowd after Covid-enforced hiatus

Greek Independence Day parade in Boston draws crowd after Covid-enforced hiatus

The parade marking Greek Independence Day in the United States is a matter of great significance for Greek Americans, and not just because of its emotional resonance, but mainly because it symbolizes national unity.

Everyone turns up for the parade, from the successful businessperson to families with toddlers and from political officials to housewives and grandmothers. It’s an event that takes months to prepare and a great deal of consideration goes into who is chosen to lead the ceremony.

The fact that a special license to hold the parade needs to be issued by each state authority means that it does not always fall on the March 25 anniversary, as was the case with the Greek Parade that took place on May 1 in Boston, a city with a strong Greek presence, as is the case across New England. Like New York, Boston and other ports on America’s East Coast received waves of thousands of migrants crossing the Atlantic, many of whom went on to settle there for good.

As always, the children dressed in the traditional Evzone costume of the Greek Presidential Guard stole the show at the May 1 parade, which was attended, among other dignitaries, by Mike Dukakis, who began his illustrious political career as governor of Massachusetts.

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Justice Minister Konstantinos Tsiaras (l) seen with Michael Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate in 1988.

The Greek state was represented by Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras and Greece’s consul general in Boston, Stratos Efthymiou, as well as Thessaloniki MP Dimitris Kouvelas. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu also attended, wearing a scarf in the Greek flag colors gifted to by her Athens counterpart, Kostas Bakoyannis. The blue and white scarf had been presented to Wu during a recent visit to the Greek capital for the Athens Marathon.

Ahead of the start of the 26th edition of the Greek Parade in Boston, Archbishop of America Elpidophoros held a special service at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Sunny skies and balmy temperatures brought the city’s Greek Americans out in force, all the more so because the annual event had been postponed for two years because of the pandemic and people were eager to get back together for a celebration in the heart of the city. The parade takes place on central Boylston Street, which is also part of the Boston Marathon route.

The Messinian contingent was particularly pleased to welcome the mayor of the Peloponnesian region’s capital, Kalamata, Thanassis Vassilopoulos.

Messinia and Laconia were among the first parts of Greece to see a massive exodus of migrants to America, and their respective associations in the US are among the oldest. Indeed, Kalamata and Massachusetts’ Lowell were recently named sister cities, while Athens and Boston are expected to be joined next.

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu attended, wearing a scarf in the Greek flag colors.