Everyone loves a festival. Food, amusement activities, music and fun things to do is the key to success. Food is the magnet to enjoy lunch and dinner with friends. New Yorkers enjoyed the outdoor and indoor Greek Festival of St. Nicholas Church of Flushing, New York. The Festival was held on Thursday, October 6 to Sunday, October 9th Columbus weekend. Admission was free. Attractions included souvlaki, gyro, pastries and loukoumades, a flea market, games, Church tours, vendors with Greek and popular disco music. People attended, making it one of the most popular New York City festivals. A fabulous raffle of cars was offered. Businessman Theodore Diamantopoulos and family came from Southwick, Massachusetts to enjoy Greek cuisine, music and socialize. Persons from the northeast states were attracted to the four day festival.
Soteris Georgiou was Festival Chairperson with Co-Chairman Larry Hatzoglou. Major politicians in New York City attended. The clergy and leaders are the following: by Rev. Protopresbyter Paul Palesty; Rev. Presbyter Aristidis Garinis and Rev. Presbyter Joakim Valasiades. Mrs. Athena Kromidas is the Principal of the William Spyropoulos School. Mr. George Kanellopoulos is Principal of the Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School.
The 111th Police Precinct provided police barriers, patrolled areas and kept order among the thousands who attended. The Security is effective every year at the St. Nicholas Bazaar. Officers managed traffic and general security around all outdoor and indoor every year. Banners with sponsors adorned the gateway to the food court. John Spiridakis Law firm with the catchy slogan “Accidents Happen” caught my eye.
Pari Preponis’ family has been working at the Festival for over thirty years. Barbara Preponis explained her deep devotion for community service. Mr. Pari Preponis and network spent many hours through the years frying the delicious Loukoumades dessert. Over a zeibekiko musical program at a prior festival, he recalled his “grandparents who had black hair, grey blue eyes and white complexion from the Ionian tribe of Greeks. They were from the original town of Byzantio, having land on the Dardanelles straits. The town is now called Permetgik in the Dardanglia state.” Paradise lost, a concept handed to each succeeding generation.
“We are proud to promote Hellenism at the Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School.,” said School Board President Maria Zolotas. “We are taking our school to new heights.” Her father, Theodore Perdik has donated his services for many years, selling raffles and cooking. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Soteris Georgiou, Festival Chairman. “I am humbled by the opportunity to help my parish. Our Festival provides funds to help the church’s ministries.” I have been watching Mr. Georgiou motivate his network of volunteers by working day and night, unselfishly giving his time and labor.
Assemblyman David Weprin of the 24th District attended on Thursday evening, October 6th with staff, sharing memories with Rev. Palesty and us. He has been aiding the community with grants and in all St. Nicholas church events. This writer, who is a third generation New Yorker and Greek-American, worked with the late Saul Weprin’s office, David and Mark Weprin since 1990, to improve the quality of life in Bayside and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church of Flushing. Assemblyman David Weprin of the 24th district represents the largest Greek community outside of Athens, Greece, concentrated at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. He personally safeguarded the civil rights of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church to hold festivals. He worked behind the scenes to keep the Flushing East Public Library open. In our community, surrounding three school complexes of P.S. 203, Cardozo H.S. and QCC, he personally supported an increase in police protection to halt crime in the area. Assemblyman David Weprin is Secretary of the Majority Conference of the New York State Assembly. He is humble, always willing to listen to everyone’s concerns, having the support of all citizens.
“We promote Greek language, culture and religion as one,” said Mr. Stephen Cherpelis. “If you divorce them our culture is destroyed. No globalism. The Greece Ministry of Education has eliminated top honors. Everyone is equal. There will be no incentive to excel.” Mr. Stephen and Arete Cherpelis are long-time members of Leadership 100. Mr. Cherpelis was honored with the 2014 Archangel Michael Award by St. Michael’s Home. He has the following honors: Archon Dikaiophylax of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle; sponsor of the Stephen and Arete Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School, in Bayside, New York; Philanthropist; Defender of the Patriarchate in Constantinople; former 1st Vice President of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City; recipient of an honorary plaque from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his role in the opening of the School of E.R.T.O. in Constantinople; Benefactor of the Ethnos (people) and other honors.
He encouraged the beginning of the Modern Greek Scholarship program at a local university by donating $1500 in 2000. He continued donating a $500 scholarship every year anonymously until this writer’s university education career ended. Mr. Cherpelis is a man who follows a righteous path, often walking alone in the face of adversity. They are the founders of the Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School. The late Rev. Anastasios Diakovasilis and his Presvitera Maria were their personal friends, inspiring many of their Flushing community service projects.
“Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Flushing, New York 1987-2014”, is an excellent book,” said Rev. Paul Palesty. “It describes an important part of our history with newspapers and legal documents. It is in our school library for all to borrow.” The book was written by this writer. For more information, email email@example.com.
The congregation of the Greek Orthodox Shrine Church of St. Nicholas in 1971 was the first community organization to sponsor an ethnic festival in the New York metropolitan area. In 45 years, the St. Nicholas Church Greek Festival has grown to become a highlight of the fall season. Everyone loves the Greek cuisine and the fun activities. Vendors sold handmade crafts and gift items for the holiday season.
An inspiring religious booth was by vendors Ms. Irene Tsiaris and Mr. Babis Sampelidis. “My energy is reflected in my icon painting on rocks,” said Ms. Tsiaris. “We form from spontaneous experiences and encounters with our environment. Nature inspires us, always changing and interesting. Rocks have a character of their own with textures. Everyone loves rock art pieces. My rock icons show religious themes in full scale to small scale icons, key chains, automobile icons and other rock art forms. There is something beautiful in seeing religious art rocks.” Her oil paintings on slabs of different rock textures were incredibly beautiful. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org and Eirini_tsiari@live.com. Amalia Bollanos displayed handmade costume jewelry from Greece and the United States. “We have sterling and cubic zirconia jewelry and accessories. For more information email her at email@example.com.”
Everyone searching for a great lunch or dinner shared the Mediterranean diet Columbus Day weekend. Olive oil is a key element of Mediterranean diet that helps a person eat better and live longer. It is the healthiest of all fats. It is cholesterol free and 77% monosatuarated fat, and gluten free. It is easily absorbed by the intestines. Olives were a part of the Greek salads offered. Souvlaki and gyro were barbecued in front of the customer’s eye. Dining and enjoying outdoor food is a great autumn experience.
Santa Claus is not from the North Pole. He is based on St. Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra, Lycia. This Greek/Byzantine city today is called Demre, in the Antalya province of Turkey. Every Greek family has a member or friend called Nick. He prays for all Christians, helps people in misfortunes, protects travelers and quickly defends those to whom injustice has been made. The Novgorod State Museum’s collection of early Russian painting is unquestionably one of the finest in the world. A circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century? possibly 16th century is the first icon that comes into view when tourists enter the icon section. Early Russian painting was one of the most significant achievements of the Byzantine civilization. The Greek Festival of St. Nicholas Church of Flushing, New York on its premises had dining, music, language, shopping and religious worship. It is the magnet that attracts persons from the northeast states every year.