By C. Ron Allen
The smell of fried food warmly welcomed visitors from the moment they pulled into the parking lot at St. Mark’s Greek Orthodox Church for the annual Boca Raton Greek Festival.
And it didn’t seem to matter how many people poured into the dining tent either – an army of volunteers was ready and armed with gyros (pronounced YEER-ohs), souvlaki and baklava and other pastries. The lines were no match.
“Things are just wonderful,” Father Mark Leondis said Sunday, the last of the four-day event. “Hundreds of people are coming out to help us express our faith and our culture. We started this morning with our liturgy where we give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. And now, were just sharing and rejoicing in the day.”
Parishioners who cooked like they would at home – using copious amounts of garlic, lemon and oregano – prepared the menu of Greek specialties.
Now in its 31st year, the festival, dubbed “Passport to Greece,” also featured performances of traditional Greek music and dancing, with some participants sporting traditional Greek clothing.
The family-oriented event also offered the chance to learn how to dance to Greek music and tours of St. Mark’s Church to discover Greek religious traditions.
“First and foremost, we have our church,” Leondis said. “Second we have all the different delicious food. Then we have of course, our beautiful Greek music and dancing and that’s part of our culture, which for us is something that goes hand in hand with our faith because it’s how we celebrate life.”
Festival enthusiasts Tonya Diamant and Kanella Fotopoulos, both Greek natives, said they made a point to come every day of the annual festival.
“I came all four days to take full advantage of the whole weekend and all the great food,” Diamant of Coral Springs said. “You’ve got to enjoy it while it’s here.”
Contact the reporter at crallen@Delraybeachtribune or 561-665-0151.