Sail to freedom: Celebrating Greek Independence Day with a boat parade to the Statue of Liberty

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Congress members Gregory Meeks, Carolyn Maloney, and Nicole Malliotakis set sail.
Photo by Dean Moses

With the Greek Independence Day parade canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, GlobalAlive LLC organized “Sail to Freedom,” a boat parade that set off on Sunday from Chelsea Piers to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Hellenic Revolution of 1821. 

Excited attendees wave flags. Photo by Dean Moses

The event was dubbed a boat parade, and with hundreds of excited guests arriving at the pier waving Greek flags and boarding a fleet of ships, the occasion lived up to its name.

Vessels lined at the dock with a procession of Grecian colors flapping behind them as families and friends hugged and laughed after over a year apart. The boats were set to “Sail to Freedom” by cruising to the Statue of Liberty where attendees would drop a wreath in front of the iconic symbol to showcase the connection of unity and freedom between the two cultures and saluting the immigrants who came before them.

For Anthony Orisses, this is a great way to celebrate the Greek bicentennial, when approximately 200 years ago, Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Ever since Orisses was a small child he would walk in the parade, and as he grew older, he would still arrive to show his support since he is grateful to his descendants for affording him the opportunity to live in New York City.

“My grandfather came over from Greece in 1916. He came on this boat called the Byron, and I have a picture of it framed downstairs. When I leave my house every day, I see the picture of the boat and every time I leave, I touch it to remember why I am here,” Orisses said, hoping that the event would bring him even closer to his grandfather.

Anthony Orisses. Photo by Dean Moses

While attendees like Orisses looked to grow even closer to their roots, notable figures such as John Catsimatidis, Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney, Gregory Meeks, and Nicole Malliotakis also saw it as an opportunity to celebrate New York’s comeback story.

Prior to casting off, awards were presented to leaders who’ve had a profound impact on the community with recipients including of businessman and philanthropist Catsimatidis, elected officials, and others.

John Catsimatidis says the day is also to celebrate New York’s comeback. Photo by Dean Moses

“There are no parades in New York, but we have done something better! We have flotillas going down the Hudson River all the way to the Statue of Liberty to celebrate. We have beat the virus. It’s Independence Day for Greece and its independence from the virus, and I hope it will be independence in Europe from the virus too,” Catsimatidis said.

Carolyn Maloney is honored with an award. Photo by Dean Moses
Congress member Nicole Malliotakis soaks in the sun. Photo by Dean Moses
Despite the heat, attendees were all smiles. Photo by Dean Moses