By Bill Parry
An Astoria street was co-named in honor of the late community leader Demetris Kastanas last Saturday. Family members and community leaders joined City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) at the intersection of 31st Avenue and Steinway Street where “Demetris Kastanas Way” was unveiled.
Kastanas founded the National Greek Channel program in 1975 and expanded the program into its own channel in 1987. He also founded Eseis Magazine, a biweekly publication that focused on issues affecting the Greek-American community as a whole.
Through these forms of media, he created an opportunity for the Greek-American community, many of whom were not native English speakers, to directly engage with news and current events.
“Demetris Kastanas helped promote Hellenism and democratic values throughout his life,” Constantinides said. “We honor him because he served as a great example of civic engagement. As the founder of the first Greek-language channel, he made news and entertainment accessible to Greek Americans throughout our city and our country.”
Kastanas also spread awareness of charitable causes and helped raise donations for worthy organizations such as the Greek Children’s Cancer Fund.
“Kastanas was a television pioneer whose hard work and dedication touched and bettered the lives of so many Greek immigrants and Greek Americans,” Simotas said. “I have such fond memories of my time visiting his station to express my best wishes to his listeners for the holidays and special occasions, both as a young student and in my current role representing our Astoria community.”
Kastanas died in 2013 at the age of 70 due to complications following open heart surgery.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said there is not a single Greek American in New York whose life was not touched by Kastanas.
“I have fond memories of watching his Saturday afternoon television show with my grandmother when I was a child, as it was the center of the Greek community at the time,” he said. “It is an honor to continue his legacy through the addition of ‘Demetris Kastanas Way’ right here in Astoria.”
Meanwhile, 104th Street and 48th Avenue in Corona was co-named for the late Edward Guida Satuday. Guida, born and raised in Corona, was a longtime city marshal who had a difficult job evicting people from their businesses and apartments, but would slow his jobs down for holidays, according to City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copelend (D-East Elmhurst).
He was also a funeral director at the family-owned Guida Funeral Home and was active in the community, working with the Corona Lions Club and donating to charities. Guida diedin May, 2014 after a sudden illness.
Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) called Guida a champion of the neighborhood and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said not only was Guida well liked in the community, he was also very well respected.
“When I first het him he didn’t think twice about sitting down with me,” Peralta said. “I was very fortunate that he liked me, because when I got elected to the Assembly, I received a lot of support in Corona after he spread the word about me. He was a caring man, even when fulfillinghis duties as a City marshal. He would give people extra time to get their business in order before he would evict, and that is something he didn’t have to do but shows how caring he was with others.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr