DIASPORA

New York’s Greek community celebrates 1821 bicentenary with Sail to Freedom

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The Greek community of New York will celebrate the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence on June 6 with Sail to Freedom.

Sail to Freedom will honor the contribution of philhellenes to the Greek struggle, particularly that of American philhellenes. The main event will be a flotilla of classic boats bedecked with Greek flags to the Statue of Liberty, highlighting not only the role of Greek shipping and the navy during the Greek War of Independence but also as a symbol of the connection between Greeks and the sea.

“We celebrate the Greek spirit, our values and the notions of freedom and democracy with an inspired and unique initiative that will draw the international spotlight to it. Our ancestors fought and died not just for their country but for the idea of free will, freedom of expression, freedom of action and the freedom to rejects tyranny,” said Evagelina Plakas, publisher of the Hellenic Golden Directory.

The concept of Sail to Freedom came to Plakas as a result of the situation imposed by the pandemic and resonated deeply with the community at large.

“Because of the pandemic there were no parades on Fifth Avenue. We also lost many people. Under these circumstances, I wanted to organize something that would celebrate the bicentenary and the American philhellenes but also would show the world that the pandemic is over and that we will be free again,” she added.

The parade will culminate in front of the Statue of Liberty, symbolizing the freedom of all people. There will be a wreath-laying ceremony, with wreaths throw into sea by the participants of the parade, and a performance by aerialist and dancer Jennifer Kovacs. Her aerial dance will symbolize the bravery of those who fought for their freedom in 1821 against the overwhelming odds of the Ottoman Empire. It will also pay homage to the legendary dance of the people of Souli who preferred to fall to their death but remain free.