Greek Festival and Community Growing

The annual Greek Festival in Columbia wrapped up on Sunday, and organizers say they set new records. News 19's Sonia Gutierrez reports.

Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The Greek Festival is wrapping up the most successful event in its history. 

They estimate over 125 thousand people stopped by the Greek Festival. 

Festival chairpersons Niki Stewart and Mary Rickman, say this year's success reflects a growing Greek community here in the Midlands.

'Opa' is one way to describe their mood after they saw the numbers for this year's Greek Festival.

 "Yassou. It's a traditional greeting that we have. Yassou can mean hello, yassou can mean goodbye, yassou can mean good day and so everybody says yassou and then opa is what you say when you're excited" said Stewart. 

"We know so far this is our best year, it'll be a record year ever in 29 years so we're totally excited about that," said Stewart. "The most important thing about the Greek Festival is our traditions and our culture because we love sharing that with the community and that's what brings the families here with their children."

Stewart says over the years, $300,000 of the festival's proceeds have gone to charities.  "We're proud! Last year we gave away about $50,000, we want to go to at least $60,000 this year," said Stewart. 

The rest will go to the mortgage of their newest church the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. 

"We built that and we're proud of it and that's what this festival is all about" said Rickman.

Parish Priest Michael Platanis says they've grown steadily in the last 20 to 30 years. They now count almost 300 families as members. 

"Seven years ago, every Sunday the church was packed and there was no room to sit and it was uncomfortable and people were really pressed in to the cubes to fit" said Platanis.

A growing festival for a growing community that Niki and Mary describe in this way: "fantastic, wonderful, just super happy people."


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