Greek Independence Day parade returns to Danforth

201 years and one pandemic later, parade celebrating Greece's liberation is on again

Greek flag
Greek Independence Day has been celebrated with a parade for the past 60 years in Toronto. 

Every year 40-year-old Evelyn Papoutsakis marches along Danforth Avenue to celebrate an historic event that happened 201 years ago.

She’s been doing it since she was four and now her kids are doing it with her as an annual tradition.

“A celebration of freedom. Unity. Tradition,” is how Evelyn Papoutsakis explains what the parade means to her. “I see it as my responsibility to pass on the history of Greece’s liberation and seeing my kids participate in the parade makes me proud to know I am fulfilling this.”

Evelyn Papoutsakis at St John Greek church before the parage
Evelyn Papoutsakis (far right) and her family await the start of the parade at St. John Greek church.

The Greek Independence Day parade celebrates the start of the Greek people taking back their freedom. Greeks from all over the Greater Toronto Area come to watch and walk to celebrate the liberation of their ancestors.

Generations of Greeks, young and old filled the sidewalks of Danforth Avenue from Donlands all the way to Broadview, for the parade on March 27 this year.

Greek Independence Day, a national holiday marked annually in Greece on March 25, commemorates the War of Greek Independence in 1821. T​​he Greek revolt began on that day in 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. The cry “Freedom or Death” became the motto of the revolution. 

It has been 201 years since the Greek people decided to fight back for their land, and for the past 60 years, the Greek people of Toronto have put on a parade. 

Clubs like the Cretans Association of Toronto, both Hellenic student associations from Ryerson and York universities, took part in the parade this year.

“Walking in the parade felt like home,” said second-year Ryerson student Dimitra Kaseros. “It was an honour, as well as I am proud to be a part of the Greek community.”

Her brother is in the York Hellenic community and also walked in the parade, she said.

Evelyn Papoutsakis was also a part of the Hellenic Student Association at Ryerson, as well as the Cretan Association of Toronto, a Cretan dance group based in Toronto since she was young. Her two daughters, Athena and Yanna, are both part of the Cretan dance group as well.

Cretan Association of Toronto
The Cretan Association of Toronto walks in the Greek Independence Day parade in the late 1970s.

The Cretan Association of Toronto has been walking in the Greek Independence Day parade has been walking in the parade for 60 years, dancers who walked in the parade now walk and watch their children walk.

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Posted: Mar 30 2022 11:28 am
Filed under: Arts & Life Lifestyle News Toronto Legacy