What to do this Memorial Day weekend

Photo courtesy of Dean Tripodes, valleygreekfestical.com

Photo courtesy of Dean Tripodes, valleygreekfestical.com

By Jeet Rai

On Saturday, May 23, day one of the 42nd annual Greek Festival took place at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church on Plummer and Balboa Blvd. The event takes places over the course of Memorial Day weekend and boasts incredible Greek food, Greek dances, activities for children to participate, and tents that sell Greek items.

The event is open to all members of the community and all military, police officers, and firefighters get in for free. For the first time ever, the festival began charging $3 for admission, which seemed to upset many festival-goers.

“I don’t understand why there’s parking only on one side of the street,” said one woman, “and why they’re charging us just to get in. I’ve been coming here since 1996 and they really screwed us over this time around.”

Despite some initial frustration among annual attendees, once actually inside the festival, all forms of frustration dissipated. The atmosphere of the festival becomes far too potent to allow anyone to remain upset. On the contrary, with all of the food (Greek lasagna, gyro), games, and activities, it’s difficult to not enjoy oneself.

Bring friends and family; in fact, most adolescents came in relatively large friend groups this year, whereas others brought their families. The event is great if family is visiting and frankly, if there’s not much to do.

Speaking of which, this Memorial Day weekend, another incredible event took place here in the San Fernando Valley: the Memorial Day weekend Carnival at St. Johns Eudes Church, located on Mason and Lassen.

This carnival is different from the Greek Festival primarily because the atmosphere is far more fun, relaxed, playful, and simply joyous. Similar to your typical carnival, this event boasts over 15 rides for both children and teenagers (parents in some cases too!). The carnival hosts tents where people can buy tickets for rides, carnival games, and food.

Beyond the games and rides is a large tent and stage set up for performers and entertainers. Singing songs from Frozen and other Disney musicals, the entertainers make it simply impossible to remain positively unaffected by the carnival.

“I’ve seen some old friends and those guys checking me out over there are going to be my new ones,” laughed and joked Astrid Saenz. “I love this place. I don’t think I could ever get tired of coming here.”

The prices for purchasing tickets for rides, games and food, luckily, are relatively cheap, certainly reasonable. Rides for children cost 3 tickets, rides for teens 4 tickets. The tents for food are many, and there are a variety of delicious foods available. There is cultural Filipino food (egg rolls, pansit to name just a select few) and even the popular and delicious Mexican papusa. There is also your typical carnival food: churros, hamburgers, nachos, cotton candy, ice cream, etc.

Silly string was definitely one of the more prominent and popular aspects of the carnival among children running and spraying one another this year.

Conveniently located on different ends of the valley, both events made it possible to have a fun-filled Memorial Day weekend and enjoy it with friends, family, and loved ones. Don’t miss out on all the festivities!

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