By Jon Evans | May 12, 2021 at 1:22 PM EDT – Updated May 12 at 1:22 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Like many events across the country, the 2020 Greek Festival at St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church in Wilmington fell victim to the pandemic. The church community postponed the popular in-person May festival, opting instead for a drive-thru only event in October, on the church grounds at 608 South College Road. The turnout was tremendous, with workers serving nearly five thousand cars in two-and-a-half days. Seeing that success, and with some pandemic restrictions remaining in place regarding outdoor events and mass gatherings, organizers opted for another drive-thru event again this year, starting this Friday, May 14.
“We had a go or no-go window that we needed to be real happy with, and we were just not very satisfied with that go no-go window of time,” said Basile Katsikis, the well-known comedian who handles promotion for the annual Greek Festival. “We just said ‘You know what, we’re going to do the drive-thru again’. We had such great success in October when we did the last drive-thru, we figured we’d do it again and keep it safe, just in case.”
This will be the 28th year for the festival, which will run from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15, and from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 16th. This year’s charitable partners which will benefit from the festival’s success will be Good Shepherd Center and First fruit Ministries of Wilmington.
“We as a community know that the people here have supported us, so we need to support other organizations that help people across the board,” Katisikis said. “First Fruit and Good Shepherd (Center) are fantastic. We try to partner up with someone, a non-profit, that really does wonderful things with the greater community, and with some of the people that really need food and some type of outreach. We try to bring them in and share that.”
Having been part of the festival since its’ inception, Katsikis has seen the community continue to support the event while learning about the heritage of St. Nicolas church and its’ members. He looks forward to the day when the in-person festival can return, with the music, dancing and Greek traditions so many have come to enjoy.
“People come from various different faiths that we have in the greater southeastern North Carolina area to come to our church, which is very colorful, and to come to our sanctuary, and they go ‘Oh my God, it looks like you’re in heaven when you’re here!’,” Katsikis says. “That’s what we want you to do. We want you to feel like you’re in heaven, that church is taking place in heaven. Sharing the culture, as far as the kids dancing, we have one of the best dance troops in the country. When these kids dance, they jump off the tables! It makes for a show! We have an authentic Greek band that comes here and always plays. They love reaching out and getting people to dance. That’s what I love about this, the outreach that we have. This is Greek Week. Everyone is Greek!”
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