Find more photos like this on 562 City Life
This past Labor Day weekend, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, hosted its 60th Annual Long Beach Greek Festival.
The first Long Beach Greek Festival was held on the original church grounds, which was located off of Pacific Avenue, in 1959. The congregation eventually grew too large for the church structure, and as the new church was being built, the festival moved to Rainbow Lagoon Park, just outside of the Long Beach Sports Arena.
The move to Rainbow Lagoon Park sparked festival interest in the community, and the festival grew exponentially.
The Long Beach Greek Festival is now held on the new church grounds; the huge white church with a blue tiled roof right off of Pacific Coast Highway.
This year’s attendance numbers have not been tallied as of yet, but it is estimated that on Sunday more than 7,000 people partied like Greeks.
The festival’s attractions included Greek food and desserts, drinks (including ouzo, the traditional anise-flavored spirit), traditional Greek dance performances, as well as lessons. There was a full carnival, where you could ride cheesy rides and win plush toys.
I was lucky enough to party it up both Sunday and Monday nights.
For some reason, the gyros at this festival are better than any other gyro in these United States. I should know. I think I’ve sampled them all. Loukoumades are always a treat; fried dough balls drenched in honey, cinnamon, and crushed walnuts. They’re a diabetic’s worst nightmare.
Did I mention the booze and dancing? The floor opens up for dancers of all skill levels throughout the day and night. Slightly sloshed beginners get up the nerve to get out there and get their groove on, Greek-style…dancing among people who have done it their entire lives.
The event was scheduled to conclude at 9pm, but in typical Greek fashion, the band kept playing until 10, when the noise ordinance goes into effect. This was the case both of the nights I was there.
The festival is run by volunteers. Gus Sverkos, owner of Kafe Neo on 4th Street, sponsored one of the food booths. “It was an extremely busy festival this year. Crazy lines…but we got through it.”
Get ready folks, the next one will be Labor Day Weekend, 2010.