Every year the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York hosts the Greek Independence Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. The parade itself is part of a much larger celebration, in which Greeks celebrate an important time in their history, when they fought and overcame centuries-long oppression. Since 1838 New Yorkers have made this celebration a traditional event, which as of 2007 drew more than 100,000 spectators and was broadcast worldwide.
The Ottoman Empire had occupied Greece for hundreds of years prior to its uprising and subsequent fight for independence, which began on May 25, 1821. According to legend, it was on that day Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag as a gesture of defiance at the monastery of Agia Lavras, which prompted the Peloponnese to rise up against the Turkish oppressors, an occupation that had endured for 400 years. The revolution lasted until 1829, when the sultan finally accepted Greek independence by the Treaty of Andrianople at Constantinople.
The Greek Independence Day Parade in New York City is the largest in the country, where hundreds of thousands of Greeks gather to celebrate their rich heritage. It began in 1938, but in 1951 it moved to the famed Fifth Avenue, where it has continued to grow in spectacle and popularity. By 2009 more than 200,000 people attended the festivities, which commemorate their freedom and independence and proudly promote their culture and achievements in a colorful and exuberant event.
The Greek ties in America stretch all the way back to the 1500s, and throughout the centuries that followed Greeks have managed to assimilate into American life while still preserving their cultural identity. The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York is a not-for-profit organization, created on August 12, 1938, with a focus to uphold the ethnic ideals of both America and Greece. It hosts the Greek Independence Day Parade, which is considered the ideal medium to reinforce the community ties with New York City while promoting Hellenic tradition and culture.
The Greek Independence Day festivities reach beyond the annual parade, with an itinerary of events to celebrate Hellenic culture and accomplishments. These events support the parade and offer other opportunities for people to gather together in celebration of Greek Independence. The annual Flag Raising Ceremony pays homage to the first flag boldly and defiantly raised at the monastery of Agia Lavras. Other events include a celebration banquet, a church service and a gala at the Hilton.
- Greek Parade: Historical Facts
- USA Greek Reporter: 2011 Greek Independence Day Parade on New York's Fifth Avenue Dedicated to "Visit Greece"
- Greek Festival Listing: New York Greek Independence Day Parade 2011
- Hellenic Societies: History
- Parade on Fifth
- USA Greek Reporter: 200.000+ Attended the New York Greek Parade
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