In Focus

Observing Traditions, Foreign and Familial

Hands and feet moved at an increasingly high speed as the opening of Greek Festival New Orleans approached.

It was a quarter past noon when I walked into a sidegate at the Hellenic Cultural Center on Robert E. Lee Blvd. Vendors and volunteers paced around, organizing merchandise and moving equipment among other things since opening was five hours away.

Greek and American flags lined Bayou St. John where white tents were pitched and all sorts of Hellenic goods — from jewelry and dresses to Baklava and alcoholic beverages — were being sold.

For a while, I stood by the tents and watched Carolyn Long, 60, the owner of Pearl Girls, a jewelry-making company, fashion a necklace while her daughter organized items on the table.

Next, I visited a booth where a family was collectively setting up shop. I met Thano Drimalas Sr., 65, and his son Thano Drimalas Jr., 34, while they were organizing soccer balls and t-shirts.

What I found interesting was that many of the vendors appeared to be operations where mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons, worked together to promote the color of their heritage.

Having crossed the Pacific Ocean on my own with all of my family remaining in South Korea, I couldn’t help but feel warmed by the sight of families breaking a sweat together under the late May sun, while feeling the essence of their culture in their fingertips.