By Bonnie Carroll
Santa Barbara-Patras Sister City Group and AHEPA Chapter #243 sponsored a lively celebration of Greek Independence Day at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church on March 18, which featured delicious Greek food and wine, music by “The Greeks” and Greek dancing lessons given by members of St. Barbara and the AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) family of Santa Barbara. George Papazacharioudakis and Anthorda Randopoulos warmly greeted guests as they arrived.
An invocation was given by Rev. Haralambos (Bob) Fox, followed by remarks from Minos Athanasiadis of AHEPA and Georgia Gastouniotis of Santa Barbara-Patras Sister Cities Group who welcomed guests and the Honorable Consul General of Greece Los Angeles, Mr. Ioannis Stamatekos, who shared his personal message, followed by the singing of the American Anthem and Greek Anthem lead by Patti Stathis Langel.
The joyous Greek Independence Day celebration benefited The Karamandaneio Children’s hospital in Patras, Greece and is one of the many fund-raising projects supported by members of the Santa Barbara-Patras Sister City Group and AHEPA.
Delicious Greek food and beverage selections were a major part of the fundraising celebration the appetizers and dinner were outstanding, as well as a gifted beautifully framed painting by local artist Anthorda Randopoulos to assist with raising efforts. Fun instructional Greek dance lessons provided great a happy challenge for guests of all ages, including young Greeks dancing with their parents and grandparents to fantastic Greek favorites by “The Greeks”.
For years I have been a supporter of the Greek Festival at Oak Park in Santa Barbara, and I was so delighted to be informed that their festival is returning once again this year as well as have the opportunity to join a Santa Barbara Sister Cities Group to support Karamandaneio Children’s Hospital in Patras, Greece.
Patras, Greece, was established as a Santa Barbara Sister City on April 29, 2010, by the Santa Barbara City Council. Patras is the third largest city of Greece with a population of 180,000. Like Santa Barbara, Patras’ geographical situation, at the foot of Mount Panachaiko overlooking the Ionian Sea, combines sea and mountains; the area has a Mediterranean climate, with relatively cool yet humid summers and mild winters. An important common geophysical characteristic of the region is its great seismicity, which has been recorded since ancient times. Patras shares another cultural similarity with Santa Barbara: its long tradition of hospitality to visitors.
Fr. Haralambos (Bob) Fox, Pastor Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church with Ioannis Stamatekos, Consul General of Greece Los Angeles.
The People-to-People Program, initiated by President Eisenhower in 1956, promotes the friendship of people regardless of race, creed, or color, by the establishment of Sister Cities. The Program offers each community, its citizens, its organizations, and the city itself a chance to participate in the fascinating and rewarding field of international relations. There is also a humanitarian opportunity to be involved in the constructive process of building world peace.
Language, art, ideas, music, youth programs, and dozens of other activities can be carried out by any person or organization in the community. By truly gaining a respect and understanding of our culture, we can begin to see the world and its many cultures as less confusing and more cohesive, and we begin to see ourselves better.
There are personal, municipal, and national reasons for joining this unique and exciting movement that offers active participation in the building of a friendlier world. For information visit: https://santabarbaraca.gov/sister-cities-board/sister-cities, and/or https://ahepadistrict20.org/Chapter/243/.