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Classic Greek culture endures

Members of St. Michael the Archangel Greek Orthodox Church in Lecanto will share the sights, sounds, tastes and feeling of their culture in a three-day festival starting today.

The fifth annual Greek Festival will feature traditional Mediterranean delights such as moussaka, leg of lamb, gyros, souvlaki, baklava and loukoumudess, all prepared fresh in the church's kitchen. There also will be music by the Greek Bouzouki Orchestra and authentic Greek dancing.

"It's our way of becoming a part of the community, a way for the county to get to know those of us who are of Greek-ethnic background and for us to share that with the people of Citrus County," said Russ Marcuri, co-chairman of the festival committee.

Marcuri said that his people hold certain, sometimes hard won, values that they cherish and hope to pass along to ensuing generations.

"We're very family oriented," he said. "Many of us keep our parents with us until they pass away. We're also very strong on education. Our parents, as immigrants, sacrificed everything so that we could have good educations."

Although they consider themselves Americans first and ethnic-Greeks second, Marcuri said, his people are still fiercely proud of their culture.

"The Greeks were under the domination of the Ottoman-Turks for 400 years, and the only thing that kept us Greek was the church," he said. "Somehow through all those years it was the only thing that kept the culture alive."

The festival will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free. The church is at 4705 W. Gulf-to-Lake Blvd. (State Road 44) west of Lecanto. For information, call 726-4806 or 527-0766.