Greek Food Fest Raising Money for Church Renovations

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SCRANTON -- Not much has changed over the years at the annual Greek Food Festival in downtown Scranton. Folks who make it a tradition know just what to do, grab a tray, file into the church basement, and make your way past baklava, spanakopita, and lamb.

"They just put one foot in front of the other and file in, walk in the door, they can smell the food a block away," said organizer Sophia Fives.

Members of the Hellenic Greek Orthodox Church on North Washington Avenue hold the festival each year. Some 30,000 people will go through the line.

Church members said this year the money they raise is more needed than ever. They're planning to renovate the church as it approaches its 100th birthday.

They'll need several hundred thousand dollars to carry out the plan to expand the church. At a time when it seems all we hear about is churches closing.

"What you're saying is true, but it's not for the Greeks. The Greek Orthodox Church, they expand, they never want to close. Always expand," church member James Scanthos said.

Scanthos said as long as they have pride in their culture, and people in the community keep buying their food, their church will continue to grow. He showed Newswatch 16 plans to change the front facade of the church and build arched windows along the sides.

Along with renovations to the outside of the church, church members are hoping to raise enough money to have Greek Orthodox icons painted on the ceiling of the sanctuary.

The priest hopes to have the renovations done, and the sanctuary decorated in time for the church's centennial in 2024.

But, there's a lot of baklava to make before that can happen.

"It's time just to update and make it look beautiful again," added Fives.