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Opa-Eat, dance at the Greek Festival

by Sophie Georgiou, staff writer


Opa is a word everyone knows since My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was shouted frequently at happy moments, and there were lots of these. Each time, everyone would cheer, and drink or dance. Opa is predicted to be shouted numerous times at the upcoming Greek Festival.

A fundraising event organized by the Saint Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the Festival will be at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park, from noon to 9 p.m. on August 28 and 29.


“The Greek Festival is the best and largest cultural festival on the island,” said Symeon Michaelidies, festival co-chairman, quoting a local magazine. With plenty of food and a variety of Greek songs and dances, the festival brings Greek culture to life.

In its 24th year, the festival will feature the Hellenic Sounds, a band from Los Angeles that will play a variety of Greek songs for all the Greek and international guests to enjoy.

Nisiotes (which means “islanders”), the church dance group, will perform numerous dances under the direction of MaryEllen Michaelidies and Dianna Graves. Guests will be invited to join them and to say Opa when they get up to participate.

The festival was created not only to bring the Greek culture to life, but most importantly to raise church funds, Michaelidies said. John Levas, a parishioner added that the festival earnings are also used to support several community functions.

Booths will offer a variety of Greek food such us gyro and mousaka, and desserts such as the always popular baklava, and melomakarona, a thick, moist, syrup-soaked cookie covered with ground nuts. The food is prepared by volunteers from the church and vendors such as the Olive Tree restaurant, all of whom work hard to make all the guests feel part of a Greek family, according to Taso Haidemenakis, owner of Artlines, which has participated in the Greek Festival since 1984.

Also participating is ceramics artist Ruth Ehrhorn, who has sponsored a booth in several past festivals. Vendors assist in fundraising by contributing a portion of their profits to the church.
Sunday school children will also participate in this year’s festival, with a booth selling lemonade and doing face painting, said Melissa Graffigna church office manager.

The festival started in 1980 and is always held on the last weekend of August at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Beach Park.

“ It is amazing how many people join us for a Greek glenti (a Greek word for party). Eat with us and dance with us,” said Elias Stamatiades, one of the dance group members.

Tickets for the Greek Festival can be purshased from the church for $2, or for $3 at the McCoy Pavilion entrance.


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