On Friday, March 18, 2022, The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia kicked off in earnest its Greek Independence Day celebrations.
On a beautiful sun-splashed day at historic Philadelphia City Hall, the Flag of Greece was raised by the 2022 Grand Marshal Consul General of Panama in Philadelphia Georgia Athanasopulos with assistance by this year’s Eleftheria Award recipient George Horiates.
An overwhelming crowd greeted the return outside of Greece for their first post-pandemic appearance by the Presidential Guard, The Evzones. As they marched on City Hall, overwhelming applause from Hellenes and philhellenes seemed to drown out the traffic noise at Philadelphia’s most famous intersection in the heart of it all at Broad and Market Streets.
Stirring renditions of the national anthems ensued from Kaliope Karapalides and then introductory remarks were made from Parade Chair Stefanos Evangelopoulos. Philadelphia Federation President Dimitrios Rozanitis was then introduced by the MC of the event Elena Panaritis.
The economist, former member of European Parliament, and former alternate director of the International Monetary Fund graciously accepted the responsibility to be the MC of both the flag raising at City Hall and the following evening’s Eleftheria Award and Dignitaries Banquet, highlighting the Federation’s accumulation of A list speakers for the week.
After the Flag of Greece was raised at City Hall, where it will continue to be until after Greek Independence Day, the Evzones and dignitaries were treated to a special tour of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, granted by the United States Park Service to the Philadelphia Federation. Stopping during the tour in the room where the Founding Founders of the American Nation signed the Declaration of Independence, it was not lost on the attendees that each signatory to the Declaration itself spoke Greek and desired to be like the Hellenes.
Later in the evening, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidoforos of America presided at Salutations services at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. The Evzones were in attendance and stood in full dress in honour of the occasion.