By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
The Greek community didn’t let the cold, windy weather stop them from restarting a tradition that ended 37 years ago.
After a service at Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, members of the parish and others gathered outside for a parade down 12th Street. Children wore traditional Greek costumes, and most participants pinned a tiny replica of the blue and white Greek flag to their coats. Many carried flags, both American and Greek, as well.
The parade celebrated Greek Independence Day.
“I’m glad they’re bringing back the tradition,” said George Levendis, Campbell City Council president. Though he was too young to remember it when the last parade occurred in 1976, his father recalls marching in a few.
“It’s a good thing for the city,” Levendis said, noting that Campbell has one of the largest Greek populations in Ohio. “I’m just glad to see everybody coming and supporting it.”
His son, John, 13, walked in the parade with him.
“I’m proud to be Greek,” John said.
Levendis’ daughter, 9-year-old Angelina, who performs Greek dances with the church’s dance group, wore a traditional Greek outfit and walked with other members of the dance group.
Maria Lopuchovsky of Poland said, “We very much enjoy these traditions that connect us to our ancestors, so we’re enjoying being part of” the Sunday parade.
Her daughter, Galena, 11, carried a banner emblazoned with the name of the church, and her son, Eli, 9, walked with his Sunday school class.
“We were all born here in the U.S.,” Lopuchovsky said. “However, my parents were born in Greece, so this is our connection back to their roots.”
Galena added, “I think it’s kind of neat that everyone can come, all the Greek people and the young children, and we can dress up in our costumes, and we can walk with our Greek flags. It’s kind of cool.”
Eleni Lyras, 8, of Campbell was excited to sing the national anthem.
“I sing at the [church’s] festival, too,” she said.
She wore a traditional Greek outfit, complete with gold-coin fringe and a red head covering.
“I’m proud of her, very proud,” said her father, George Lyras.
He’s also happy about the return of the parade.
“I think it’s very important to show our Greek heritage and our culture,” Lyras said.
Eleni’s cousin, 7-year-old Eleni Grillis of Campbell, participated in the parade as well.
She was dressed in traditional Greek clothes and said she likes dressing up occasionally.
The Greek Independence Day celebration marks the Greek uprising against the Ottoman Empire which, according to legend, began March 25, 1821, after a Greek Orthodox bishop, Germanos III of Old Patras, blessed a Greek flag and proclaimed a revolution against the Ottomans. After eight years of fighting, the Greeks won their independence in 1829.