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Greece Is the Word 

Take an imaginary trip to the Old World this Memorial Day weekend, when Northeast Ohio's Hellenic community gives itself props at the annual Greek Heritage Festival. And, natch, Party Central is at Cleveland's oldest Greek church. "We started as a carnival 50 years ago," says Pastor Anthony Demetri of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Tremont. "Now, people make an effort to come out to the neighborhood to taste the distinct richness of Greek flavors." To back up the claim, an army of volunteers plates up dishes, including pizza with phyllo dough, pastitsio with wine sauce, and the calorie-packing baklava. To work off the extra pounds, spectators can troll the church's makeshift flea market of music, book, and movie vendors. For the gals, a line of booths will display colorful bags, scarves, and jewels from the Aegean Sea. And students in traditional Greek regalia will dance in two tents for the more than 10,000 expected revelers. "If you want a sense of Hellenic traditions, here is where you can experience the food, arts, culture, and the iconography of the church, all without leaving Cleveland," says Demetri. "It's a wonderful way to get to know this vibrant cultural group thriving in this city." The fest runs from noon to midnight tonight through Sunday and noon to 9 p.m. Monday at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 2187 West 14th Street in Tremont. Admission is free. Call 216-861-0116 or visit www.annunciationcleveland.com.
May 23-25, noon, 2008

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