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Savoring a Neighborhood's Greek and Latino Heritage

October 03, 2000|MARY ROURKE

L.A.'s Byzantine-Latino quarter showed off its exotic profile last weekend at the second annual St. Sophia's Greek Cathedral festival.

The church plaza at the corner of Pico and Normandie, west of downtown, swayed with Greek folk dancers in the afternoon and a Cuban band at night. For two days, the scent of stuffed grape leaves and leg of lamb crossed with whiffs of green corn tamales. Between cooking demonstrations and mini-dance lessons, some of the 10,000 celebrators took a guided tour of the cathedral, built in 1952 by the movie-house tycoon George Skouras.

The cathedral has been boosting the neighborhood's Greek and Latino personality since 1996, when the Very Rev. John Bakas, dean of St. Sophia's, joined an effort to spruce up the area with religious leaders from the nearby St. Thomas the Apostle, a primarily Latino Catholic church as well as local high schools, community leaders and merchants. New paint, street lights, landscaping and other improvements followed.

Says Ted Pastras, the festival chairman: "I found out that people of Greek descent love mariachi music."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 4, 2000 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Incorrect names: Tuesday's story about a festival at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral misidentified a cathedral benefactor. He is Charles Skouras.

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