Greek Festival In Daytona Beach

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Real Estate Broker/Owner with Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408

Today was the last day of 32nd Greek Festival in Daytona Beach. It took place in St. Demetrios Church. These festivals became tradition over the years, and this 4-day event attracts a lot of people, and not only Greek.

St. Demetrios ChurchThe parking lot was full, but having lived in the next building for 3 years, I knew how to fool the system, and parked just 100 yards from the church.

There is a bit of history going with this place. The 3-level house, that was where the church stands today, belonged to Mr. Olds, yes, the auto man behind Oldsmobiles. In mid 40s Fulgencio Batista, who lost his Presidential re-election bid in 1944, bought this property and moved there with his family. They lived here in Daytona Beach until he became Cuban Senator in 1948 and then a President. And then a hated tyrant, who cleared the way for an even more evil dictator - Fidel Castro.

Batista gave his properties to the City of Daytona, and the collection of art that he brought to Daytona in the 50s was housed in the Olds house, until it was moved to a new meseum. The collection of art stayed in Daytona, as they refused to return it at request of Castro's government, and this is how Daytona ended up with the second largest after Havana collection of art.

After moving the collection out of Olds house, the city sold the land for the new Greek Church, and after the church was completed, they started this traditionof Greek Festivals, and now every year in November the area around the church becomes so incredibly busy for 4 days.

Greek Festival$2 donation and you are in. Tents in the back of the church and on the lawns by the river. Greek music. Vendors offering everything you can imagine. And, of course, food. Delicious greek food. From famous Gyros, prepared on 10 vertical broilers, to Dolmathes - Grape leaves stuffed with a delicious meat mixture, Souzoukakia - Greek meatballs, Spanakopita - Fila dough rolls stuffed with spinach and Feta cheese, Tiropites - Fila dough triangles filled with four special cheeses, Pastitsio - Baked macaroni with a special cream sauce, Souvlakia - Meat and veggies on a skewer (shish kabob), Galaktoboriko - A custard dessert of layered filo dough, custard and another layer of filo dough covered with a yummy sauce, and much more.

The dancers are on the lower level. Beautiful costumes, unfamiliar but pleasant music, people enjoying a cool air of the cold front, but warm atmosphere, great food, and great entertainment.

Buy, festival. Be there next year.

Greek FestivalGreek FestivalGreek FestivalGreek FestivalGreek Festival

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William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Jon, You didn't say but I was wondering if you might be Orthodox. Interesting and lively post and wonderful to be able to see the different cultures as they are celebrated. Great post and so interesting as well.

Nov 16, 2008 03:54 PM #1
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
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William- I am not Orthodox. My wife is. She is ethnic Russian, I am what they called a jew, meaning it was in my passport, but even the names of the Holidays I first heard after coming to US.

I was brought up as Russian. My mom was speaking Yidish, but never taught me, and used it only when talking to her friends and when she did not want me to know.

She was very scared to teach me about Judaism, as she was afraid I might get in trouble. As everyone else of my age, I was an atheist (we even had a course in college, titled Scientific Atheism, and we were graded).

When I was in New York, I worked for a Jewish Social Services organization, but that did  not make me religious.

Olga, my wife, goes to an orthodox church, but not St. Demetrios. They even have Russian Church in Palm Coast and, I think, in Orlando, but she does not go there.

Thanks for taking time to visit and comment.

Nov 16, 2008 04:11 PM #2
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William J. Archambault, Jr.
The Real Estate Investment Institute - Houston, TX

Jon,

I always like the Greek Festivals, loved the food! I never did develop a taste for baklava or Ouzo.

Great photos. Smiling girl's in ethnic costums are a sure thing, like photos of kids and dogs.

Bill

Nov 16, 2008 10:40 PM #3
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
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Bill -  Baklava is too sweet for me, and not that much me, but my wife Olga would made sure I pass on that.

Gyros are terrific. Watching 10 Gyro machines with rotating cones was impressive, but hey, they feed up to 10,000 people during the 4-day festival.

Taking photos of dancers was not easy, the crowd blocks you, and I was lucky to get close to do it.

Thanks

Nov 17, 2008 12:45 AM #4
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Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
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Hi Jon: I can't believe they put Jew on your passport . . . well, I guess I can. It sounds awfully weird. You always write such interesting blogs, too. And I love the photos. That church is on the water, yes?

My husband and I used to go to the Greek Festival in Minneapolis, but it was held at the Convention Center and not a gorgeous church like this one. Lots of people went to drink beer, but I went for the grape leaves. I made my own grape leaves for an office party once and nobody ate them because they didn't know what they were. I had frozen grape leaves in my freezer for months later.

Elizabeth Weintraub Land Park Real Estate Agent in Sacramento

Nov 17, 2008 03:07 AM #5
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Elizabeth - St. Demetrios Church is right on the water, on the Intracoastal, as we call it, though the official name is Atlantic intracoastal Waterway, or we call it Halifax River.

As for the passport, yes, this was very weird. It was not only on the passport, it was on your library list, it was on you class book, which the teacher brought to the class and where they were grading you. When I was 7, I remember, the teacher reading the list (she was new, so she was trying to put a kids face to the name, and she was reading with the nationality (it has a bit different meaning here), so she read my name and then said, a Jew. The class looked at me as if I fell of the Martian surface, and I felt that I landed on a hot sun.

The nationality was paragraph 5 in the passport, so when people wanted to say that the person was Jew, they would say that he was "limping on the 5th"

In the evening I cried hysterically that did not want to be a Jew, I wanted to be Russian, as everyone else. I was blaming her for that.

Well, it is sort of funny that when asked what nationality I am I say "Russian". I never called myself "Russian" when I lived there. I was very careful about it. If I was trying to avoid being beaten because they might suspect that I was a jew, J used to lie that I was Polish (my first name was more Polish than Russian, and last name was similar to Polish name- and I have changed both here in the US) or a Checz, but never "Russian".

Finally, after coming to US where you have no problem being a Jew, I am saying that I am Russian. Really weird.

Nov 17, 2008 10:57 AM #6
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Bonnie & Terry Westbrook
Westbrook Realty - Ada, MI
Grand Rapids MI Real Estate

Jon, I am glad that you posted these marvelous pictures and the explanation of the Greek Festival there in Daytona. Local festivals are wonderful opportunities to showcase your area, thanks for sharing with all of us.  The dancing girls are beautiful and their dresses remind me of costumed dolls I have seen.

Nov 18, 2008 10:41 AM #7
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Bonnie -  Thanks. I think this is the least expensive (LOL) way to explore other cultures, right in your own backyard.

It was an fascinating experience watching the dancers, listening to the music, and, of course, indulging urselves on their festive food.

Nov 18, 2008 11:17 AM #8
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Ellie McIntire
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This is an amazing church community. 14 years ago while I lived in DB, at Thanksgiving, my friends and I helped the church members feed the homeless and needy. It was such a great thing to be part of. In many ways I think we got more out of the yearly experience than the people that enjoyed the tasty meal. I do hope they are still doing it.

Nov 19, 2008 03:48 PM #9
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
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Ellie - As far as I now, they still do. Thanks for visiting. How could you leave Florida (LOL)?

 

Nov 19, 2008 04:00 PM #10
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