Ahepa Hellenic Heritage Foundation - Archive
James Birakos Press Release - September 9, 1999

News Release - Tournament of Roses ® Parade

September 9, 1999
Contact: James N. Birakos, Ph.D.
Phone: (310) 326-5209
[Tournament of Roses]

For Release September 9, 1999


The symbolic spirit of Hellenism, depicted by the eternal Olympic torch, will be passed to the world and yet another millennium when the Hellenic float appears in the celebrated Tournament of Roses Parade on new year's day.

Titled "Passing the Torch" and featuring a floral Olympic torch and the Temple of Zeus, the classical Hellenic float sponsored by the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) will be a second-year participant in the historic parade, now in its 111th season.

Last New Year's day, a Hellenic float sponsored by the AHEPA Family, finally made its debut in the Rose Parade following years of trying to gain entrance. It was an award-winning appearance. Featuring the majestic Parthenon and a dozen young Greek Americans dressed in native Greek costumes, along with Miss Greece and Miss AHEPA, the float captured the coveted Queen's Trophy for the most effective use and display of roses in concept, design and presentation.

It was estimated that the floral float and its important Hellenic message, was seen and heard by more than one million people who lined the parade route in Pasadena, California, and some 90 million who viewed it live on television in the United States. The international television feed carried the parade to over 100 countries and a viewership estimated to be close to one-half billion people. Never before has Hellenism and AHEPA had such instantaneous widespread exposure.

This time the float executive committee selected the theme, "Passing the Torch," to be consistent with the parade's motif, "Celebration 2000: Visions of the Future." On New Year's day 2000, the beginning of the new millennium, the committee will seek to demonstrate to the world that Hellenism will continue to inspire mankind for at least another thousand years.

Additionally, during the year 2000, the Olympic torch will be passed from Sydney, Australia, which hosts the Olympic Games, to Athens, Greece, returning the symbolic spirit of the Olympiad to the country of its birth, and the site of the 2004 Games. The Olympic Games were first held in Olympia Greece in 776 BC. The modern Games were also born in Athens in 1896.

Featured on the float will be three Olympians of Greek descent and a victor's crown of olive leaves, along with artistic Grecian urns, symbolizing the Hellenic value of the well-trained body and a well-trained mind.

The float project has been enthusiastically supported by AHEPA Family and Greek Americans from throughout the nation. The AHEPA Family has been outspoken supporters of Hellenism for many decades and has sought, through important events, such as the Rose Parade, to promote the myriad virtues of the Greek experience where art, philosophy, literature, medicine, architecture and athletics reached unsurpassed heights. It is regularly stated that Western culture has its roots there.

The float committee chose to highlight the Olympic Games as an example of this contribution, celebrating achievements that have passed the test of time and are fresh and vibrant today.

Six float riders, between the ages of 12 and 18, will be selected through a "Flowers for the Float" competition. Youngsters will be selected from among those who compete to raise money for flowers for the decorating of the float. Information on the ridership competition can be obtained by fax (818) 504-2502, e-mail: Contact Us, or through the official website www.ahepafloat.org.

Contributions are needed to raise the required $180,000 for the float, and all contributors will be officially recognized in published documents and on the website. All contributions should be made to the AHEPA Hellenic Heritage Foundation, and mailed to Post Office Box 305, Van Nuys, CA 91408. The foundation is a non-profit California corporation and a 501(c)3 entity.

For additional information contact Nick Perdaris, float committee chairman at (818) 504-2502, or vice chair Chris Mellas at (714) 701-9848.

# # # #

Top of Page