On Saturday, March 13, 2021 the Order of AHEPA presented a recreation of an 1827 Ball which raised funds for the Greek War of Independence. In the event, AHEPA also paid homage to the many American supporters of the Greeks’ struggle for freedom against the Ottoman Empire.
Many fundraisers held in the US during the war assisted the Greek cause. This reenactment was of the Greek Ball which took place on February 27, 1827 in New York City.
The original event was at the Park Theatre, located in Manhattan, which no longer stands. AHEPA took extraordinary pains to replicate the Park Theatre of the times and to recreate in detail the many aspects of the evening from contemporary newspaper accounts.
The spectacle when entering the Stathakion, was beautiful and moving, according to all who took part.
A large display of the Park Theatre circa 1827 was stationed at the entrance to the Greek Ball. The large hall had many displays designed to take all those present back to the days of the Greek Revolution.
A copy of the US Gazette from 1827 was displayed at the Ball, which stated:
“The ball given last night at the Park Theatre, for the doubly patriotic purpose of honoring the birthday of the great father of this country, and for contributing to the fund which our benevolent citizens are accumulating to alleviate the distresses of the suffering Greeks, and, if possible, to accelerate their march to freedom and independence, was all that could have been anticipated or desired.
“The company began to assemble a few minutes before eight o’clock, and continued to arrive until eleven, when the number of ladies and gentlemen was about two thousand.”
Greek Revolution had many sympathizers in the US
To the left and right of the staged reenactment were two large portraits of General Lafayette and the Father of America, the first United States President George Washington.
Historical accounts say that these same monumental paintings were displayed this past week just as they had been in 1827, to the left and the right of the stage.
They were adorned with cornucopias — emblems of peace and plenty — as they had been at that time as well. Flowers were suspended above the banners which stated that the cause of Greece is the cause of all.
The Greek Cross was on display as well, as it had been during the evening of the 1827 event. The Greek cross was a symbol of the Greek struggle for independence at that time.
In September of 1823, a huge cross — raised by citizens at their own expense — had appeared in Brooklyn Heights. It bore the words, “May the Grecian Cross be planted from village to village and from steeple to steeple until it rests on the Dome of St. Sophia.”
More than $16 million raised for Greek War of Independence
Last week’s recreation of the 1827 Ball included professional New York Broadway actors and actresses who were dressed in elegant, authentic evening wear of the time. From top hats to gowns, adorned in the formal hairstyles of the day, the cast danced as one would at a gala Ball in 1827.
Dancing to waltzes and concertos of the day transformed Stathakion into a magical place transporting the Greek community back to an elegant time of days gone by.
The highlight of AHEPA’s reenactment of the Greek Ball was the presence of Consul Ms. Lana Zochiou of the Consulate General of Greece.
Ms. Zochiou, surrounded by the cast, recited from memory a heartfelt rendition of the famed communication of the first Governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias to then-United States President John Quincy Adams.
The letter had been sent a short time after the original Greek Ball. In the missive, Kapodistrias thanked the United States with “the sentiments of gratitude with which the liberal conduct of the America nation has filled the nation over which he presides.”
The cast, some of them in tears, applauded the recitation of the moving letter, and then danced with Ms. Zochiou.
Then, as AHEPA Supreme President George G Horiates related, “something remarkable occurred” when the cast and the AHEPA members, with masks on, mingled together. The mixture of costumes and suits, he stated, was a stark contrast between the two vastly different time periods.
In addition, he said, it also underscored the 200-year-long alliance between the United States and Greece.
Ahepans from the Empire Distrct participating in the reenactment were Supreme Governor Tom Dushas, and his wife Eva; Hermes chapter members Bill Chryssochos, Peter Argyropoulos, and NY Federation former Presidents Jimmy Kalamaras and Elias Tsekerithis.
The President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, Cleanthis Maimoroglou was a gracious host, and a participant as well.
AHEPA thanks the actors and actresses of the cast of Greek Bicentennial Reenactment of the Greek Ball, Consulate General of Greece Lana Zochiou, Vasilis Keisoglou of Cosmos Philly, Shana Lang of Washington Talent Agency, Orth Graphics, Philip Christopher of PSEKA and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York.
Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage.
Including noted philhellenes among its members, there are more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit the organization’s website.