On Monday, about 150 Cretans in three buses from the Pancretan Association of America (PAA) visited Price and Helper. They traveled from Salt Lake City where about 1,000 Cretans gathered for a PAA convention.
The theme for this year’s biennial convention is “Discover Your Past, Claim Your Future,” explained Kostas Katsohirakis, chairman of this year’s convention. “This is a celebration of our heritage, our food, our dancing and our songs,” he said.
One grandfather stated that he brought two of his grandchildren so that he could show them history about their ancestors. “I can tell all the stories I want, but showing them does much more,” he said.
In the same conversation, Peter Mansuelis from the touring group gave a small history lesson on the last names of some Cretans. He explained that when the Ottoman Empire conquered Europe, Crete was the last and most difficult area to be conquered. For this reason the Ottomans fixed every last name with –akis, which means “small” in Greek, an attempted insult.
The touring group first visited the Greek cathedral for a memorial service in memory of the 800 Greek immigrants that have died in mines in the area. Utah District 69 Representative Brad King greeted the visitors on the steps of the cathedral. They then visited the Price City Cemetery. From there, they traveled to the Helper Railroad Museum.
“This region resembles Crete, minus the ocean,” Manuselis also said, speaking of Castle Country. Mansuelis is from Ohio but lives in California.