Opa! Thousands flock to Island Park Greek Festival


Despite an exhaustingly humid weekend, thousands of Long Islanders, organizers said, made their way to Island Park to celebrate Greek culture and cuisine at the annual summer Greek Festival.

From Thursday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Aug. 19, Panaghia of Island Park Greek Orthodox Church hosted almost 3,000 people over the weekend at the Newport Road establishment, according to festival administrator Georgia Papathanasiou. The Church featured a flea market, live music courtesy of well-known Greek performer Yianni Papastefanou and an orchestra, amusement rides, games and raffles to their parking lot and offered guided tours of their building to boot.

The food served was authentic homemade Greek deliciousness, such as pastitsio, moussaka, roasted lamb, lemon potatoes, Greek salad, gyros, chicken and pork souvlaki, spinach pies such as tyropites and spanakopites. And there were treats too, including but not limited to loukoumades baklava, galaktoboureko and Greek cookies. As for drinks, there was imported Greek beer, wine and coffee.

“It went very, very well … Excellent,” Papathanasiou said. “The weather could have been a little kinder, it was hot and sweaty, but we had a great turn out!”

The tradition has dated back to the church’s formation in 1991 to celebrate the “dormition” of the Virgin Mary, a Greek Orthodox holiday commemorating her death. Some of the money raised is donated towards the church and the rest to charities such as Ronald McDonald House Green Division, the St. Michaels’ Nursing Home currently under construction in Uniondale and the relief for the ongoing wildfires in Greece.