Astoria, NY.- Photo: Dimitrios Panagos
Senator Mike Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz hosted a celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Stathakion Center in Astoria. The Queens Elected Officials took to marking the occasion with a ceremony, recognizing Greek heritage and culture, and honoring local community leaders.
Honorees of the event included Petros Galatoulas, President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies, Anna and Stamatis Bililis, Owners of Stamatis Restaurant, Harry Xidias of City View Pharmacy and Niko and Vicky Voulkoudis from the Christos Voulkoudis Guardian Angel Foundation.
Senator Gianaris said, “I am proud to celebrate another Greek Independence Day. There is no better place than here in Astoria, the heart of Greek-American culture, to remember out heritage and celebrate the spirit of freedom and the desire for independence that as for so long linked American with the country of our ancestors.
Assemblywoman Simotas said, “Celebrating Greek Independence is about rejoicing in the passion for democracy that we all share. As I raise my own daughter I am always mindful of my responsibility to pass on the story of Greece’s heroic fight for freedom and justice. Today we recognize six Greek-Americans who have spent their lives honoring the ideals of their Hellenic heritage and who have made indelible contributions to the well-being of our communities,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.
Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “I join with Queens Borough President Katz, Senator Gianaris, and Assemblymember Simotas in celebrating our Greek cultural heritage, which has encapsulated democratic and civic values for millennium. We’re especially proud to honor these Greek-Americans who have worked to promote Hellenic values throughout our community. We recognize their contributions to our city. I thank everyone for attending today’s celebration and for helping to promote civic engagement in our neighborhood.”
Greek Independence Day is a national holiday in Greece, commemorating the start of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The holiday coincides with the Annunciation to the Theotokos, celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God.
City Council Members Costa Constantinides, Vincent Gentile, and Paul Vallone, in conjunction with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, celebrated on Monday the anniversary of Greek Independence. The celebration honored Greek-Americans who have dedicated themselves to serving their communities.
Council Member Constantinides said, “As the first Greek-Cypriot American elected to the City Council, there is special pride in having the opportunity to honor Greek-Americans who have worked to promote Greek cultural heritage. The Greek-American community has long been a part of the diverse melting pot that is New York City. Our honorees have worked for the betterment of their communities and serve as important role models. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues, Council Members Vallone and Gentile, for standing with the Greek-American community and honoring their contribution to our great city.”
The Council Members honored:
Eleftheria Pancyprian Youth Soccer Club
Greek Orthodox Council of IBEW Local 3
The Papageorgiou Family, Owners of Zenon Taverna restaurant
Andrew S. Gounardes, Counsel at the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
The Saint Demetrios School Choir provided musical entertainment during the ceremony, performing several songs in Greek.
The honorees have helped promote Hellenic and democratic values and have been examples of civic engagement throughout the community, including working with children to promote teamwork and academic excellence, as well as promoting Greek culture and culinary arts.
“I’m proud to join my Council colleagues in wishing a happy Greek Independence Day to all New Yorkers and to people of Greek descent across the world,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Council is proud to celebrate the backgrounds and heritages which make New York City great. I thank Council Member Costa Constantinides for hosting this Greek Independence Celebration.”
“I am proud to once again stand with Council Member Costa Constantinides as we celebrate the anniversary of Greece’s Independence at City Hall,” said Council Member Vallone. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Greek-American Community on issues important to them, as well as sharing with them in celebration and appreciation of their rich culture and history.”