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George Christy Talks About The L.A. Greek Festival, Saint Sophia’s Cathedral and more

Dine and dance and make friends at the weekend-long L.A. Greek Festival on the campus of Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, founded during the 1930s, and a designated landmark in California.

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A family affair.

Moms and Dads and Kids. Grandmas and Grandpas.  Uncles and Aunts.  Also: dating couples and singles who may hook up with a companion.

OK, everyone, let’s face the music and dance!

The 19th annual L.A. Greek Festival opens tonight on the campus of the historic Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral at Normandie and Pico Boulevards. 

Good-timers will gather this  October weekend to relish in the pleasure of  making new friends and savoring home-cooked food prepared a la minute via the loyal parishioners.  Dancing or learning to dance a la Greek to the bouzouki favorites of the Aegean islanders.  Performed by Takis Kokotas and his Omega Band. 

A long-handled string instrument, not unlike a lute, the bouzouki is popular for its minor mode music.

The Very Reverend John Bakas, dean of the Cathedral, created the festival “to celebrate and continue the culture of our Greek community in Los Angeles”. 

Families delight in the taste of the grilled spring lamb prepared with his special blend of spices by “grill master” Father Chris Kolentsas, the Cathedral’s assistant priest. 

Not to be missed is the saganaki, the flaming cheese. The savory dips. Hellenic  dishes such as stuffed vine leaves, stuffed tomatoes and zucchini, the herb-flavored keftedes (meatballs).

Let’s not overlook the desserts, from baklava to kataifi, or the honey-glazed loukoumades that very likely inspired the famous beignets of New Orleans.

Count on Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, who’s of Greek heritage and whose heirs, Chester and Marlon, are being raised in the Orthodox faith.  

Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame comes by and participates in leading the free Greek dance lessons.

“We aim to extend our philoxenia –  hospitality! – to our city and visitors from the environs,” says Father Bakas.  “The proceeds from the festival benefit the Cathedral’s philanthropic ministries and ongoing endeavors to strengthen and support our neighboring communities.  The festival is sponsored by the L.A. Chargers and the Spanos family.”   

Admission is free on opening day, Oct. 6, with the gates opening at 5 p.m..

Saturday, Oct. 7, with hours from noon to 11 p.m.  Featuring the Saint Sophia dancers. Music all day and night by vocalist Takis Kototas, the bouzouki stylings  by Alex Galas and the Omega Band.

Sunday, Oct. 8, noon to 10 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors; and no charge for children 12 or younger. 

Complimentary satellite parking and shuttle service is provided.

Once more, let’s face the music and dance the hasapiko, kalamatiano, syrto, kritiko and the tzamiko!

Opa!  As they cheer in the “old country.” 

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