Opa: Greeks in Chicago

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Chicago currently has the third largest Greek population of any city in the world. Why did these immigrants come to Chicago, and what impact has the Greek community had on the city? What customs and traditions did Greek immigrants bring and retain in the New World? And how has Greek ethnic identify fared as generations pass and the connection to the homeland fades? These are all questions that we seek to answer in this television tour of local Greek culture.

Viewers get a feeling for the stoic, hard-working, proud and loyal nature of our Greek immigrants, as well as their humor and love for their homeland. Customs portrayed include the singing of native songs and one of the oldest and most sacred rites–a Greek Orthodox wedding.

“All the Greeks who came here, we’re not kings or princes, dukes. They came with five dollars. They came with nothing. They saved their money, they educated their children, they educated us,” says John Kass of the Chicago Tribune as he describes how they came here with little more than hope and determination. They retained the spirit of their homeland while contributing to the growth of the city.

As the Greeks prospered, so did Chicago. “Opa! The Greeks in Chicago” shines a spotlight on this tenacious community that has offered Chicago 2,200 restaurants, and much more. This program originally aired on WTTW Chicago in 2001 on Chicago Stories.

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