“This is our Eleventh Year Anniversary and we’re going to celebrate the event in spectacular style,” Fest director Ted Pastras enthused about the 2009 Los Angeles Greek Festival. “We’ll have a lot of show biz celebrities from Hollywood and people from all over Southern California coming to the Byzantine Latino Quarter to enjoy this event. Tom and Rita are great friends, and part of the Cathedral family, and they’re lending their star power to our festival so that the people of the Southland can appreciate all the fun & excitement of the Greek Islands – right here in the city of the angels.”
And indeed the stars came out to play in the packed square adjacent to St Sophia Cathedral. Hollywood’s favorite super-star couple Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson once again served as honorary chairs and celebrity guest hosts of the LA Greek Fest presented September 11-13 on the Grand Plaza grounds of Saint Sophia Cathedral.
This year’s theme was “Passport to a Grecian Holiday” and Billy Zane Kicked off Friday evening as celebrity judge of the Zorba Dance contest along with Debbie Mattenopoulos and Thaao Penghlis (from Days of our Lives).
Saturday, Tom and Rita visited for a few hours as well as Mayor Villaraigosa, a few city council members, Nia Vardalos and Debbie Mattenopoulos (again). The night was capped off with Robin Davis singing, and a 45 minute concert by Anna Vissi. After the concert the Greek singer signed autographs for her fans.
LA Magazine has recognized the LA GREEK FEST as one of the “must-see, must-do” September events in Los Angeles. An approximate 40,000 people passed through the gates of Saint Sophia over the three day event.
“We want to welcome one and all — not only to the Fest but into our beautiful Cathedral during their visit,” encourages Father John Bakas, dean of the Cathedral. “Come experience the ‘warm heart of Los Angeles’ and Greek hospitality at its finest — there’s nothing else like it anywhere!”
EXOTIC TRAVEL THEME
Food booths served Greek specialties from Athens as well as island delicacies from Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and Saloniki. Delicious spanakopita, calamari, pastitsio, souvlakia, loukanika baklava and galaktoboureko were all on offer. The travel-themed raffle prizes included a trip for two to the Greek Islands, weekend getaways, a digital camera, luggage and more.
Befitting the burgeoning breadth and scope of the Fest, the Los Angeles City Council will be declaring September 11-13 as “LA GREEK FEST Weekend” in Los Angeles.
“In just a few short years, our FEST has become a blockbuster event for the city of Los Angeles” beams festival co-director Jan Pastras. “It’s such a fantastic way to enjoy a splash of the Aegean right here in Southern California!”
(Photo Credit: Alex Vacca for Greek Reporter – Anna Vissi picture courtesy of Phillip Georgious)