History inspires Hellenic Museum’s first Ambrosia Ball
Past president of the National Hellenic Museum Bill Vranas and wife Peggy of Skokie. | Lee Litas~For Sun-Times Media
The National Hellenic Museum, 333 S. Halsted St., Chicago; (312) 655-1234 or nationalhellenicmuseum.org
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:01AM
The Event: To help honor Greek traditions, the National Hellenic Museum sought to conjure the spirits of mythological Greek gods during the first Ambrosia Ball held inside the great hall of Chicago’s Union Station on May 4.
Human “statues” dressed in togas and dusted white, the “voice of Zeus” and popular Greek cultural icons like recording artist Mihalis Hatzigiannis, the Angelos Brothers String Trio, Strength & Honor Warriors and DJ John Grammatis conspired to transport 800 guests “from Mount Olympus to Chicago dazzled by the aura of ancient Greece.”
Cause Célèbre: “This is the best of Greek culture: the food, the wine, the atmosphere all here at Union Station,” said NHM President Stephanie Vlahakis.
Drawing particular attention to the choice of the surroundings, she noted, “This is a train station so it is [like] the immigrant experience: coming to this country, transplanting from cultural ideals; it encompasses everything the museum is about — ancient Greece and the Greek-American experience.”
The National Hellenic Museum seeks to connect generations and people of all backgrounds locally, nationally and internationally, noted Toula Georgakopoulos, NHM director of external affairs.
“Like every ethnic group, we should support our heritage and this is a way to bring it to the public in general and to the students especially, those of Greek descent and those not of Greek descent,” said Diamond Mendonides, NHM co-founder.
“Regardless of culture, to support the things that helped raise your family up from where they were before, that’s a positive,” said Mark Daimisch, former Northbrook village president.
And board member Maria Lampros added, “This is a national institution and we want everyone involved in it because it’s for our future, for our children, for everybody’s children. They don’t have to be Greek.”
Bottom Line: The event raised $350,000 thousand for NHM’s children’s programming.