Here we are, not yet July and already Skiathos is a hive of activity. The Summer ‘buzz’ is most definitely in the air (although the football may have more to do with the crowded cafés and bars on the Paralia!).
The conveyor belt of daily charter flights has begun:
laden with their precious pale-skinned cargo the planes arrive, turn around and take-off back into the blue with a freshly-baked golden brown batch, done to a tee. That said, the weather has been extraordinary this month. One minute there’s a heat wave with temperatures soaring into the mid 40’s and out of the blue (literally!) thick cloud appears, lightning illuminates the dark, midday skies and without warning, a deluge of rain turns our roads into free-flowing muddy rivers.
Great for the garden of course but not much fun when you’ve just spent 2 hours being bitten alive by thirsty ‘mozzies’ (There are millions of the little blighters about this year!) while watering your dry barren patch, only to have it (and you!) turn into a muddy mess within seconds! Not that I’m complaining, really. The island is so green and lush it’s beautiful at the moment and with all the rising steam would be beginning to feel quite tropical if it wasn’t for the profusion of pale blue cornflowers in the meadows.
In spite of the unpredictable conditions, organised cultural events have been staged and have enjoyed much success. In the first of these, the Municipality of Skiathos welcomed the Organising Committee of the ‘Special Olympics’ which are to be held in Athens next year. Among the dignitaries was the British Ambassador to Greece, Dr David Landsman and Mrs Landsman, as Skiathos (namely ALKI, the local Organisation for Children with Special Needs) will be hosting the British Special Olympics team, for a week next year, following their participation in the Games.
This wonderful open-air cultural event; an evening of music and song, courtesy of the local band and beautiful voices of the Skiathos Choir,
took place on the port in front of the memorial to Skiathos seamen under the watchful eyes of two of Greece’ s most famous literary figures: Alexandros Papadiamantes (1851 – 1911) and Moriatides, both of whom came from Skiathos.
The following weekend ALKI’s Chairman, Despina Mitselou and her team of volunteers staged a wonderful event for the Skiathos Children; an ‘ART-A-THON’ on the old port.
The objective of the day (once again in preparation for next year’s events) was to bring local children with special needs (who have, till now, largely remained isolated) together with their able-bodies contemporaries. Over 80 shcool children took part in the fun entitled ‘Hide and Seek’ as the theme was ‘At Play’ .
Easels, paints, canvasses, weaving looms, even refreshments were kindly donated by local sponsors in private business sector. Once again the dignitaries, which included Gianna Despotopoulou (President of the Athens Special Olympics Organising Committee) Dr and Mrs Davis Landsman, patrons Mrs Vicky Santikou, Mrs Fleur Potamiamos and Mrs Eleni Lampidariou, Mayor Nikolaos Plomaritis and Papas Georgios, gathered together for very moving speeches delivered by Despina Mitselou, chairman of ALKI, Chaido Voyatzi, an Educational Psychologist and Konstantina Exharco, a special needs teacher, both from Skiathos ‘Special’ School. Oh yes and yours truly, who made a feeble attempt at translating it all for the English-speaking onlookers.
Despite all the pomp and ceremony; the speeches, the beautiful bouquets of flowers and goody bags etc that were distributed, this day was all about the children – ALL CHILDREN –
Just seeing the look of delight on their tiny faces, sensing their enjoyment and the sheer enthusiasm with which they wielded their paint brushes while working in total harmony with one another,
brought it’s true significance home! To see the children having so much fun together, made it a very special day indeed!
More such events are to be staged throughout the Summer. The choir, along with visiting choirs from all over Greece, will continue to enthrall audiences, and an Exhibition of exciting Contemporary Greek Art will be held in some of the major hotels. An exhibition of the beautiful works of local artist and iconographer, Constantinos Koutoumbas opens today on the Bourtzi:
Alas, the days when Skiathos’ Annual Summer Festival (which included visiting Ballet companies and world-class musicians and entertainers) appear to be a thing of the past. Nevertheless, a few of us will continue to work towards reinstating Skiathos’ reputation as an exciting, vibrant Cultural Centre – a status it enjoyed not so very long ago.