New York. – By Michael Christodoulou
The Greek Festival in Hicksville gave an opportunity to everyone to enjoy three days of activities, to celebrate Greek culture and cuisine, and to meet old friends and establish new friendships. The Festival started on September 11, 2015 and took place at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church located at 20 Field Avenue.
This year the Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Festival was Mr. Harry Charalambous, who was assisted by many volunteers. The President of the Parish Council, Mr. Theodoros Papageorgiou, was responsible for the overall organization of the festivities.
For many days the Organizing Committee and the volunteers planned and prepared every detail of the festival and for three days worked hard to serve the visitors of the Festival and transmitted their enthusiasm.
The entrance to the Festival was free for everyone. Thanks to National Grid and Cablevision, also, the parking was free, with free shuttle bus from the Cablevision parking lot to the Festival.
The Festival opened with a performance by the “Hellenic Dancers”, a group of children who are very proud to learn Greek dances in the church’s cultural center during evening hours after the school classes. Grandparents, parents, and community members alike enjoyed the traditional dances that highlighted the richness of Greek history and civilization.
Father Theofanis Papantonis warmly greeted all visitors, offered prayers for good health, and shared well-wishes to all.
Greek traditional music and songs were uplifting and a great reminder of the beauty of the Greek language, the music and dances, which serve as links connecting Greek-Americans with their homeland.
Visitors enjoyed walking around with family members and friends and enjoying a dish of gyro, souvlaki or moussaka.
The Cantor of the church Mr. John Saragias, who has been serving for many years as the “Psaltis of the Byzantine Hymns” gave tours of the church, showing the icons of angels and saints created by iconographer George Filippakis.
Young children and teenagers fun with games and rides, and chances to win prizes such as oversized stuffed animals and goldfish.
Live music was provided by the “Aster Entertainment”. Nostalgic songs and bouzouki music attracted young kids and old-timers to start dancing with the intention to keep dancing until the end of the Festival.
For those who like history, we should include a few lines adapted from “The Life of Our Community Magazine” written by Mrs. Anna Dounelis. The article is titled: “An Even Greater Gift” and is as follows:
“At a General Assembly meeting on May 24, 1977, parishioners met to discuss the plans for our 1st Grecian Festival & Bazaar. It was a new, exciting and bold undertaking for our young community, as we were still having church services in the basement of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. That first three-day festival was held on the parking lot next to the Chroma Paint building on Broadway. We had to rent and bring everything that was needed. What we did have in abundance was our youthful energy and enthusiasm, and we directed all of our efforts and talents to that commitment! Although exhausted afterwards, we were amazed at what we had accomplished together, and we thanked God. However, we received an even greater gift for which we thank God, because that experience helped us become a stronger and more closely-knit community. Working side-by-side with family and friends for the good of our parish is still one of the best reasons to volunteer.”
In the History of Hicksville, by long-time friends of Holy Trinity Church Richard and Anne Evers, one can learn that:
“At Holy Trinity, there are over 700 families enrolled, 350 children attend a seven-year Greek parochial school after they have finished their public school education. Trinity also has about 350 children attending classes in a Sunday school. To enter Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is to find oneself in the word of Byzantine iconography. On all sides are paintings of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, angels and saints in vivid colors, while above, filling a great dome ceiling painting, is an awe-inspiring icon of Christ. All of the remarkable glories of Holy Trinity were painted by the renowned iconographer, George Filippakis, a member of the church.”
HICKSVILLE COMMUNITY LEADERS REMEMBERED
For many years two Hicksville Community Leaders were regular visitors to the Greek Festival, these leaders were William Bennett and Richard Evers, both of whom served the community with pride and their impact is still evident.
William Bennett held, among other positions, the roles of President of Hicksville Public Library and Director of the Hicksville Gregory Museum. Mr. Bennett found himself visiting Holy Trinity Church. William Bennett, with his Greek friends, enjoyed looking the icons inside the church and staying for few minutes to thank God for things, that always are important in life.
Richard Evers was President of Hicksville Historical Society and President of Hicksville Gregory Museum. Richard Evers and his wife Anne Evers are the writers of several historical books preserving the history of Hicksville. Richard Evers considered himself to be a long-time friend of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and he always printed articles for the Festival in the local newspapers.