The Hellenic Republic Ambassador and the Cyprus High Commissioner also welcomed the delegation and briefed us on their respective current foreign affairs issues.
We are coming towards the end of a very eventful Centenary Year. On 16 October we launched our Centenary publication "The Ithacans." The Society is indebted to the publication group: Anna Vlass, George Paxinos, James Raftopoulos, Mini Paxinos, Kay and Andrew Raftopoulos, for their hard work and the professional manner in which they successfully approached this historical endeavour. The following Friday we hosted our interstate Ithacan guests at a vineyard lunch at De Bortoli’s in the Yarra Valley. The next evening it was the occasion of our Centenary Gala Ball held at the MCG. Some 600 guests attended and the view looking out onto the famous football ground was magic.
On 19 November, the exhibition "Our Odyssey - Ithacans in Melbourne" opened at the Immigration Museum in Flinders Street. This compelling show will be of interest not only to Ithacans and friends but also to the general public.
Another successful first for our Society was the Neos Kosmos wraparounds published in both the English and Greek editions during our Centenary Week in October. Our grateful thanks must go to writers/editors Vicky Kapourelakos and Eugenia Vlass-Tsalikis.
Don’t forget our Annual Picnic on Sunday 12 February 2017 at Ferny Creek featuring a sausage sizzle, the traditional races and medals, music, dancing and a sumptuous afternoon tea.
Finally, I would like to wish you and yours health and happiness in the New Year.
Despite unfavourable weather conditions, a few hundred Ithacans, their family and friends attended the 2017 Ithacan Picnic at Ferny Creek and had a wonderful time. Due to the rain, we all set up our tables in the hall which created a more intimate atmosphere. There was a buzz in the room as family and friends reunited over spanakopites, souvlakia, sandwiches and sweets. The Rotary Club provided BBQ sausages which proved very popular having sold out on the day. Many brought delicious cakes for our new tradition of afternoon tea in the hall, and when Anna Vlass brought along her homemade galaktobouriko, it disappeared in seconds. Our younger members were well taken care of with a balloonist and face painter providing lots of fun and entertainment. Some kids also received a Milo cricket shirt and cricket ball. One of the highlights of the day was when Julianne Stoyles, one of our new Ithacan members and a descendant of the Mavromatis family from Exoghi through her father’s side, brought along her extensive family tree. To mark the occasion, many of the Mavromatis descendants who happened to be at the picnic, posed for a photo with the clan. What a special moment and family reunion. The afternoon ended with the obligatory Greek dancing led by Olga Black and her regular cohort of Greek dancing enthusiasts. We thank the organising committee for yet another fantastic picnic experience.
On October 22, close to 600 guests attended the Centenary Gala Ball held in the Members Dining Room at Melbourne's iconic MCG. Some guests attended from interstate and as far away as Greece.
The night opened with an introduction by MC and fellow Ithacan Angela Pippos who told us a little bit about her own ancestral history from Ithaca. Our Vice President, Costa Kaimakamis, and Margarita Varigos, daughter of former President Nick Varigos and Rena Varigos also shared MC duties and it was wonderful to see our younger generation taking an active role in proceedings.
Special guest was the Greek Consul General, Christina Simantiraki, who gave a speech in Greek commending the Society for its achievements and respect of its heritage.
Greek band STROFES were a sensational choice and the dance floor was packed to capacity. The inimitable Olga Black and her cohort of dancers began the Greek dancing showing us how it's done. The crowd was also entertained by THE THREE TENORS who initially posed as waiters, fooling the crowd.
Congratulations to Kathy Koutsounis Tsaralikis who won the lucky door prize of a return trip to Greece flying Emirates, thanks to Spiros Alysandratos of Consolidated Travel Group. Other lucky draw prizes included two $500 vouchers from Hello World Oakleigh and TravelManagers.
The Silent Auction was a fantastic success, raising close to $8000 for the primary school in North Ithaca.
The Society would also like to thank the Iris Lucas family for their generosity in hosting the afterparty at The Spice Market where many continued the night of celebrations.
An event this significant and with hundreds of people in attendance takes years to plan and a tremendous amount of work was poured into its organisation. A big congratulations to Anna Vlass, the Ball Committee and the Executive Committee for staging such an unforgettable evening. Last, but by no means least, we thank our major sponsors, supporters and Silent Auction donors whose generous support was very much appreciated.
Armadale Pharmacy - Gerald Galatis Bagheera Enterprises - Andrew Black Hello World Oakleigh
Joannides Funerals Kim Petalas Penny Stansfield TravelManagers Stradbroke Dental - Dr Anna Paxinos