[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]
By James Ensor
Hometown Weekly Reporter
The daytime skies have been cloudy, but the mood outside St. Mark’s Greek Orthodox Church in Westwood was anything but. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, the parish held its Second Annual Greek festival, featuring food, music, and an unmistakable sense of community.
Several tents sheltered partygoers, food stands, and a live band playing festive, traditional Greek music. The talented musicians were all members of the same family; it was a band composed of cousins and uncles, and it even featured the ancient instrument from the Black Sea: the kemetze, a bowed lyre.
Dinners were provided by the talented Vaios “Victor” Tzakis, of Victor’s 50s Diner in Hudson. They included marinated pork and chicken souvlaki on skewers, as well as tender braised lamb. Everything was homemade, including the deserts such as loukoumathes, galakoboureko, and baklava, provided by the parishioners of the church. Help didn’t only come in the form of local members of the parish; friends of the church traveled from New York and Pennsylvania to lend a hand, as well.
“Most of our congregation is of Greek heritage, and for us, faith and our culture are intertwined,” said Father George Kamberidis, the pastor of the church. “This is our way of introducing ourselves to Westwood. We had guests who had never even heard of Orthodoxy, so we brought them inside to show them around the church and teach them about our culture. We’re having this event as community outreach as well as to raise funds to renovate the church to look more like a traditional Orthodox one.”
The parish has existed for about 40 years, but they outgrew their old building in Roslindale and moved to Westwood two-and-a-half years ago. Father Kamberidis has been a priest for seven years, and has been with St. Mark’s for two of those years. They are planning on holding this festival every September, and maybe even having two per year in the future. This year’s event attracted 2,000 guests, and the parish hopes to put on a bigger and better festival every year.