Written by Youseph Rasheed Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00
The sounds of traditional folk music filled the air as the parking lot of the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Hicksville transformed into a makeshift Greek village. The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church has been part of the Hicksville community for over three decades. The church hosts an annual Greek festival that brings together the Greek community from far and wide to celebrate their proud heritage.
The event was held for three days, beginning on Sept. 6. George Pieri, festival chairman, was beaming with pride on the second day of festivities as he oversaw the celebration. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too,” Pieri explained.
“We are very lucky this year because the weather is beautiful and there is a great turnout.”
You cannot experience Greek culture without tasting the delicious and popular, traditional Greek cuisine. The aroma of Mediterranean flavors filled the air. One of the dishes being served was Souvlaki. It is a dish that is similar to shish kebab. It consists of small pieces of meat and vegetables skewered over a fire. Harry Charalambous was busy working the grill and said, “I love being the cook here, I love doing it for the church. There’s three generations of Harry
Charalambous here including my father, and we have all been working the festival since the first one was held back in 1978.”
Katerina Sarras and her team of young volunteers were serving up the sweet stuff at the bakery booth. Pastries like galactoboureko and tiropita were on the menu ready to fulfill your sweet tooth. One item being sold was the more well-known and beloved nut filled honey pastry called baklava.
No festival is complete without souvenirs, and this Greek Festival pulled out all the stops. Different booths sold it all. There was clothing covered with patriotic Greek insignia, soap bars that were handmade by nuns from the All Saints
Greek Orthodox Monastery in Calverton, and everything in between.
Rose Kamitsis proudly showed off the decoratively colored, ancient styled Greek dolls she had up for sale. “These dolls are dressed up like the old time Greek soldiers, and today our traditional Greek dancers dress like this too in order to honor our past,” she explained. Alongside Kamitsis at the booth was Despina Mamtsaderis who discussed the history deeper and said, “In Greece there is a place called Syntagma Square which is where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located. Those soldiers still dress up like this today. They do the changing of the guard every hour there, and they are perfect; they don’t even blink.”
You didn’t have to be Greek to enjoy the good times. People came from all over to partake in the fun, and also to satisfy their curiosity. Kristin Pezzello from Plainview came along with her husband, and two kids to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells. Her young daughter even got to feed the goats and sheep at the makeshift petting zoo that was setup right in front of the Church. “We love great festivals, great food, and just having a good time” she said with a smile. “My kids were excited to feed the animals.”
The Collier family and their friend Judy Christofourou also came out to enjoy the good times, good food and let the kids enjoy some of the rides.
There was a giant slide, train rides, ring toss games, and chances to win prizes like oversized stuffed animals. Young Christopher Carpenter proudly held up the two goldfish he won at the ping pong game and said, “I’m having a really great time; this festival is lots of fun.”
The most coveted prizes of all were the chances to win one of two brand new cars at the super grand raffle. The first prize was a sleek looking brand new 2013 Audi A4 Quattro or $25,000. The second prize was a shiny new 2013 Hyundai Elantra, and there were 73 other prizes as well.
“I have seen this festival for a long time, and this is one of our best years ever,” shared John Saragias, one of the church’s cantors.
Highlights scheduled at the festival included Hellenic dancers and Bouzouki music. National Grid provided free parking in designated areas and Cablevision even had free shuttle service from their parking lot to the festival.
Anthony Rahaniotis, a DJ from Farmingdale, was having a great time banging out the tunes. He said, “We are really lucky this year; more people are coming out enjoying this great heritage that we have. What I love most is our culture and just being together. We really get to show off what a great big society we have.”