NEW YORK – The United Greek Americans hosted the group’s annual Christmas Party in Times Square last month during a weekend that included a Friday Greek night featuring Giannis Sofillas live at Proper West, and the 3rd Annual Red Party at McGettigan’s in the neighborhood of Midtown.
UGA was launched a decade ago by Deano Kastis, “as a way for our ‘parea’ to get together,” he said. Today, the group’s mission is to bring together Greeks in the U.S. and Canada under one roof for socializing three times a year with Christmas in New York, Memorial Day Weekend in Clearwater Beach, and Labor Day Weekend in Chicago.
With a past in the nightlife industry hosting large outdoor hip-hop concerts in downtown Orlando, Kastis said it was a friend’s comment that sparked the idea behind UGA. “A Greek friend of mine attended the event and said ‘imagine if these were all Greek people,’” Kastis recalled.
Attracting some 500 guests, UGA’s next event is the 10th Annual Memorial Day Weekend Beach Party in Clearwater Beach. “We rent out nearly the entire Shephards Beach Resort,” Kastis said. “What makes this weekend amazing is that we spend four days together from morning to night.”
Aside from serving as a large get-together and party scene, UGA offers academic scholarships to students of Hellenic descent studying in the U.S.. The Eva Dossa Hellenic Scholarship is granted to students in honor of Kastis’ grandmother.
“Even though she was not given an opportunity to graduate high school due to the civil war and because she was a female, she highly prioritized education to her children and grandchildren,” Kastis said.
UGA offers three scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each and asks college-level applicants to submit an essay about their Greek-American upbringing.
“From the beginning of this journey, we have strived to make our mission and everything that we do correlate to our core principle of ‘Philoxenia,’ which means embracing and loving all as family,” Kastis said.
More details on UGA events and the academic scholarship may be found on UnitedGreekAmericans.com