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Sinkhole pushes Greek festival to New Port Richey's Gulf View Square

Rita Diamantopulos, left, and Katina Kollias prepare food for the festival.

LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Times

Rita Diamantopulos, left, and Katina Kollias prepare food for the festival.

NEW PORT RICHEY — St. George Greek Orthodox Church will draw thousands of gyro lovers to its annual festival and fundraiser this weekend — with one change.

The festival, which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, will be in the parking lot of Gulf View Square mall on U.S. 19 instead of at the church property on Little Road.

A small sinkhole appeared in the church parking lot that left St. George without enough parking to accommodate the thousands who attend the popular event, church officials said. The sinkhole has been repaired temporarily and does not threaten any buildings.

As for the festival, the choices were to relocate or postpone, said Dina Rivers, president of the parish council.

She said the amusement company that provides the rides and games secured the spot at the mall, then invited the church.

"We accepted their gracious invitation," Rivers said.

On Monday, the church kitchen was busy with bakers and cooks preparing the traditional treats that draw Greeks and non-Greeks from throughout the Tampa Bay area.

There's pastichio, a baked macaroni dish like lasagna — "but much better, all due respect," Rivers said.

There's pork and chicken souvlaki, served on a stick or with pita bread. There's gyros and Greek salad and Greek meatballs, and spinach pie and cheese pie.

Then there's a whole alphabet's worth of pastries including koulourakia (buttery twist cookies) and loukoumathes (honey puffs with syrup, cinnamon and sesame seeds) and galatobouriko (custard with baked dough).

To entertain between meals, there will be a Greek DJ playing traditional and modern music and three troupes of dancers from the church.

"It's a chance for the people to get familiar with us, with the Greek food, with our culture," said Koulla Mitchell, a volunteer.

Because of the move the event has been scaled down. Church officials hope later this year to have a full-scale festival, which is the main fundraiser for the church's ministries and community outreach programs.

"We need everyone who came last year to patronize us again," Rivers said.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

If you go

Changing places

What: St. George Greek Orthodox Church annual festival

When: 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday

Where: Gulf View Square mall, in the parking lot at Embassy Boulevard and U.S. 19

Cost: Admission to the festival is free.

To call: For information, call (727) 868-5911.

Sinkhole pushes Greek festival to New Port Richey's Gulf View Square 02/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, February 9, 2009 11:09pm]

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