Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who runs the parade?
The Detroit Greek Independence Day Committee, a non-profit Michigan Organization. Most Greek Orthodox Churches and Greek organizations in the region have votes on the committee. However, the committee is independently incorporated and is not a division or subsidiary of any other organization.
Q. What is the history of the parade?
The original Detroit Greek Parade was started during World War II to raise money for war bonds for Greece, which was an American ally. The parades continued for several decades. The original parade stopped sometime in the late 1960’s.
The current parade committee was formed in 2000. In 2001, the parade committee held an indoor celebration at the International Center in Greektown. In 2002, the committee successfully resurrected the parade. Parades have been held annually ever since.
Q. Why are committee meetings in Greektown?
Because it is the most central location. Keep in mind that we have organizations participating from all over the area: As far north as Flint, as far east as Windsor, as far south as Toledo, and as far west as Ann Arbor.
Q. How do you decide the parade date?
The parade is usually on the last Sunday in March. However, most schools have their spring break during the week after Western Easter and many families go on vacation. Accordingly, if Western Easter is in late March, we hold the parade in April to ensure maximum participation by children.
Q. Have you considered having the parade in the summer?
We have voted several times and, each time, have decided to keep the parade in March. The weather usually isn’t that bad in March; the average high temperature is in the 50’s on March 25, and as of 2007, we have never had rain during the parade. Furthermore, most people prefer to have the parade close to Greek Independence Day. Finally, the college students have finals in May, and younger children are on vacation from June through August; youth participation would suffer if we held the parade during those months.
Keep in mind that all other Greek parades in North America (Chicago, New York, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, Tarpon Springs, Cleveland, San Francisco, Baltimore) are held around Greek Independence Day, and many of those are in cold weather cities, too.
Q. How is the parade marching order decided?
The marching list is rotated each year so different groups are near the front of the parade.
Q. Why don’t you have the parade on Woodward instead of Monroe Street?
In the 1990’s, the state decided not to allow parades on Woodward except for the Thanksgiving parade. Other parades that used to take place on Woodward, such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade, were forced to move.
Furthermore, Greektown is a sentimental favorite place to end the parade and, because of its narrow streets, has an excellent atmosphere.
Q. The parade looks like an epitaphio procession! Why don’t people march in straight lines?
A few groups have successfully marched in formation (e.g. Kyklos Hellenic Society). They have succeeded because they planned ahead and practiced. If you want your group to look neat, you should practice. We’ve tried various methods to get people to line up neatly, but we’ve learned that nothing will work if you don’t practice ahead of time.
Q. Why is the American national anthem sung last at the post-parade program?
The proper protocol is that the national anthem of the host country is always sung last. For example, at sports events in the US, the Canadian anthem is always first and the American anthem last. We follow the same rules for the parade.
Q. How many people attend the parade?
Because the crowd is gathered into a compact area for the post-parade ceremony, we can measure the crowd fairly accurately. It’s safe to say that over 5,000 people attend each year.
Q. Why doesn’t the committee sell food on the street after the parade and have a day-long festival?
Many reasons. (1) We don’t have enough volunteers. (2) Unlike church festivals, this is a one-day event. One bad day of weather would mean a total loss on food sales, costing us thousands of dollars. (3) The Greektown Merchants generously support the parade and we prefer to leave the food sales to the experts.
Q. Who chooses the Hellenic Heritage Award winners?
A separate Hellenic Heritage Award committee chooses the award winners. The parade committee has no input.