Martin C. Barry
The usually tranquil corner of d’Outremont Avenue and St. Roch Street in Park Extension was enlivened by traditional Greek music and dancing on the evening of Aug. 17 for the annual Park Extension Greek Cultural Festival.
Held around the same date as the Orthodox Church’s Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (Aug. 15), all proceeds from the festival were going to a local Greek Orthodox church.
In an interview, Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros noted the religious significance of the festival. “This festival is the celebration of the very important religious holiday which is the Dormition of the Virgin Mary,” she said.
A meaningful celebration
“The Virgin Mary has great importance among those in the Greek Orthodox community. We often pray to her for favours. If someone is ill. We give thanks to her when something good happens. But the name of the Virgin Mary is always on our lips whatever happens.”
Although he’s been stationed in Montreal for some time now, Consul General in Montreal for Greece Michalis Gavriilidis said it was his first time attending the Park Ex Greek Fest.
“It’s a privilege to be here at the heart of Montreal’s historic Greek neighbourhood,” he said, noting the presence of several Greek Orthodox churches in the area.
Uniting local Greeks
“People come from all over the city to enjoy the Greek cuisine, the Greek dance music and the Greek spirit,” said Andy Crilis of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal which organizes the festival each year.
“And don’t forget that Park Extension is where the first Greeks arrived and lived in Montreal,” he continued. “They come here from wherever they are now – from Laval, the South Shore, the West Island, all over the city – to be here every year to celebrate this important date.”
A family gathering
Also among the dignitaries dropping by the festival was Saint-Laurent Liberal MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos. “I and my family have come here for years,” she said. “As I got older I would come with my friends because we were part of the dance troupe. This is an event that brings all Montreal Greeks together every year.”
Laurier-Dorion MNA Andrés Fontecilla was just as thrilled to be taking part in the event. “It is a great honour to have been invited to this festival which brings together the Greek community in Montreal and throughout Quebec,” he said. “This is an opportunity to come out and meet the community.”