WASHINGTON D.C. - Friday, a Panama City Beach business owner got the thrill of a lifetime after being invited to attend a special White House event.
Following in the footsteps of previous presidents, President Trump hosted a Greek Independence Day event to honor the Greek-American community.
Former politician and current owner of Captain Anderson's in Panama city Beach, said he got a call from a blocked number earlier this week inviting him to the event. At first, he didn't believe it but after he got the official invitation in his email he knew he had to take advantage of the opportunity.
Greek Independence Day, which is this Saturday, commemorates the start of the war of Greek Independence from Turkey in 1821.
The annual White House reception began with President Reagan's administration in 1986 and this year's event marked the 31st year of the celebration. President Trump spoke about Greek Heritage and the bond between the U.S. and Greece. In addition to the president, the Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church of America also spoke.
Patronis says he never expected the White House to be so open and welcoming.
"Imagine the whole White House is wide open so all the furniture, you can sit on the furniture, and on top of that there's live music, there's a huge food line," said Patronis. "It was like a wedding reception. And the whole place was full of Greeks from all over the United States, celebrating the event. And at the same time just a lot of fellowship and enjoyment in the People's House. And being able to take my mom, who is a first generation Greek-American, that was really special to me. There were so many folks there that she grew up with or she knew through church conferences and gatherings so it was really special. My mom's 81 and I thought she was 19 meeting Elvis for the first time."
Patronis also says he advises people not to ignore phone calls from blocked numbers, or they may miss out on an invitation.
Unfortunately, Patronis and his mother did not get to meet President Trump, as he had to leave right after his speech due to issues with the health care vote.
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