Greek independence also commemorated
Ithaca, NY.- By Topher Sanders
Mayor Carolyn Peterson and the mayor of Elios-Pronni, Greece on Sunday March 25th,officially forged a relationship between the two regions, a relationship nearly 60 years in the making. Peterson and Mayor Gerasimos Metaxas Angeletatos of Elios-Pronni, Greece, exchanged keys to their cities during a ceremony at Tompkins County Public Library.
Documents found in Greece show that the leaders of the Kefalonia region, where Elios-Pronni is located, and Ithaca have been attempting to form a relationship since 1948. Ithaca shares its name with an island in the Kefalonia region in the Ionian Sea.
“We’ve been striving and striving to make this connection and here we are,” said Peterson to a small crowd at the library.
Peterson gave Angeletatos some local wines, Ithaca chocolate and an Ithaca sweatshirt in addition to a key to Ithaca. Angeletatos gave Peterson wine and a bust of Odysseus, after whose kingdom Angeletatos said Ithaca was named.
“We would like to invite … members of the Ithaca community … to help us make the bridge that has been built today into a permanent structure that will unite our two communities in meaningful ways,” Angeletatos said.
The partnership of the two cities is being made possible in part by a grant Cornell’s Institute for European Studies and Einaudi Center at Cornell received from the European Union Commission. The town twinning is part of the “Getting to Know Europe” project.
Growing wine industries, tourism and hospitality are commonalities shared between Elios-Pronni and the Finger Lakes region.
“Our office is trying to promote awareness about the European Union and we’ve chosen as a focus point this twinning between Elios-Pronni, Greece and Ithaca,” said Wylie Schwartz, project assistant working with the European Union Commission grant. “So we thought by focusing on our similarities we could forge connections between civic leaders, educators and industry.”
Angeletatos and Peterson spent time together early on Sunday prior to the key exchange when they took part in the Greek Independence Day Program at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Catherine.
“We have to maintain our Greek culture and understand its heritage and history,” said Aleia Vasilaros, whose son participated in Sunday’s program at the church.
Church members spoke about the significance of Greek Independence Day and children sang songs, read poems and played instruments to honor their heritage.
Children gain a lot from the program, Vasilaros said.
“They are actively involved in it so they can really remember it and it can have some meaning for them,” she said. “So by going through this ritual every year we get a reminder and learn a little bit more.”
*** The Ithaca Journal. Originally published March 26, 2007