The world is marking the 200th anniversary of the spontaneous eruption of the Greek War of Independence in March 1821. In Greece and in cities around the world the Greek flag and the blue and white colours of our nation are shown with pride by Greeks and as a tribute by the rest of the world.

Greece had been preparing for the event for years as have Greeks of the diaspora but the merciless pandemic has put a stop to most celebrations. But not all. Social media, mass media, governments, communities, associations, entertainers, writers and just about all of us have found ways of marking the event.

Without taking away anything from the efforts and patriotic fervour of organizations in Ontario and indeed across Canada, I want to pay tribute to the the Pan-Messinian Association of Toronto, Papaflessas Ipapanti for their way of celebrating.

Unlike some associations that have declined in the last few years, the Pan-Messinian is on an upward path. When other associations have an annual dance and are happy to draw a couple of hundred people, the Pan-Messinians draw one thousand. And that is not all but I will let you visit their website for more information. htthttps://panmessinian.ca/ or see the video that I am writing about: ps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF9CzT66s-k&t=9s

For the 200th anniversary, the Messinians organized a marvelous concert. Using local talent, they entertained us with songs from all of Greece and ranging from traditional melodies, rebetika, modern classics  from every region of our country. They had youngsters recite poetry, show the flag and perform traditional dances.

The show opened with the Olympic Brothers Entertainment and singer Stacey Zaikos. She sang traditional songs like The Dance of Zaloggos and a potpourri of beautiful melodies with her well-rounded tones and fine stage presence.

The popular Parea band with singer John Tsifliklis performed traditional songs and modern classics like Natane to 21, Thessaloniki mou and, of course, Mandili Kalamatiano. With six musicians including a fine clarinetist, the group has a wide repertoire covering the whole range of Greek music.

Vocalist Stavros Kanichis and his musicians on keyboard, bouzouki and percussion started with the beautiful Strosse sto stroma sou gia dyo and several zeibekika until he changed the pace with the song about a man who wants to be free to do whatever he wants! Stavros picked up the pace with a nice crescendo of tunes in a fine performance.

The Seizmos Band followed with vocalist Nick Allyssandratos, accompanied by clarinet and keyboard. They dove into demanding tsamika and other traditional songs.

Then Michalitsa and her musicians took over. She is an entertainer who knows how to rouse an audience and did not shy from showing her talents even on a streaming. She went through her routine of songs without a break. Keep your audience with you and never lose them, seems to be her way.Invite them to sing with you, tell them to dance, involve them.

The credits at the end of the concert indicated dozens of people who participated and I believe not one of them got paid.

(P.S. Speaking of the date of the eruption of the revolution …Please do not tell Messinians that the revolution did not start on March 23, 1821 in Kalamata. Avoid mentioning to anyone from Agridi, Kalavryta that revolutionary action was not initiated there on March 14. Do not even think of suggesting to a Maniati from Areopoli that the revolution was not proclaimed there on March 17. Same applies for people of Kalavryta, same date. Advice given to prevent bloodshed.)

Quite a show. Quite an anniversary. Quite an Association.