MASON CITY — Greek dancing, symbols and history were celebrated Monday by clients and staff at the Salvation Army Adult Day Health Center in Mason City.
The celebration was led by Sam Hasapopoulos, 89, and George Lagios, 81, and their wives, members of the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Mason City. They talked about Greek traditions in honor of Greek Independence Day, which is March 25.
“The Greeks fought long and hard for independence,” said Hasapopoulos, whose father, Gus, came to Mason City in 1915 and farmed.
Wearing black Greek fishermen’s caps, Lagios and Hasapopoulos demonstrated traditional Greek dances and talked about Greek customs and foods such as baklava and feta cheese.
Lagios and his wife, Marilyn, talked about the history of Greek independence and showed a hand-sewn doily, a small blue and white Greek flag, a model of a Greek ceremonial guard and a Greek religious icon.
“Authentic icons are made by the monks,” Marilyn Lagios said.
Greek independence was finally achieved in 1832 in a long war for independence after 379 years under Ottoman rule, George Lagios said.
Marilyn Hasapopoulos, Sam’s wife, talked about how her husband’s father had come to the United States with a young wife in an arranged marriage.
She had to stay in a row house at Ellis Island for three weeks until Sam’s uncle had signed a bond guaranteeing that Gus wouldn’t get into trouble.
Lagios’ father, Peter, emigrated to the United States at the age of 16, where he worked on the railroad.
He settled in Mason City, where he eventually opened United Cigar Store. George’s mother, Sophie Lagios, now deceased, was a cashier at the First National Bank on the day it was robbed by John Dillinger and other Chicago gangsters, Lagios said.
Adult Day Health clients said they enjoyed the presentation.
“I didn’t know much about Greece,” said Doris Barlow, 98, of Clear Lake, a former Iowa country school teacher.