America has the bald eagle, Australia the emu, and the Greek island Mykonos has a pelican. But eagles and emus don’t exactly roam the streets, knocking on restaurant doors for lunch and posing for photos with tourists.
In 1954, an injured pelican was found on a Mykonos beach, nursed back to health, and christened Petros. The bird, gifted by the island with an endless flow of fish and friends, essentially gained citizen status. He also achieved a measure of celebrity, delighting locals and visitors alike (including Jackie Kennedy) with his charm and natural camera presence.
It was islandwide heartbreak when Petros was lost in 1985, but the legend would live on. Petros “descendants” were given to the island, and history repeated itself when another injured pelican also found refuge there. These days, Mykonos has only one meandering mascot, who is also named Petros.
Locals like restaurant owner Constantine Monoguios, whose father knew the original Petros, can vouch for the pelican’s importance to island life.
How ubiquitous is the legend of Petros on Mykonos? My family and I knew about Petros and the other pelicans since we were kids. Every tourist, when they come [to] Mykonos, are searching for him and always want a photo. How significant is Petros to the island’s culture? Since Petros came [to] Mykonos and got used to the island, it was a part of Mykonos. Everybody loved him and take care of him. And also, one big part of Mykonos tourism is because of him, as he [was] made the mascot. Mykonos, before being famous, was an island with fishermen, so we can say that pelicans are still eating well. Where does the pelican wander? Does he interact with the sea? [He goes to] Yialos in the mornings, looking for some fish from the fishermen’s place. Afterwards, he goes [to] Little Venice, looking for some more fish. They love [the] sea.
- Dine like a local in Mykonos’ Ano Mera Village. The area has Greek cuisine in traditional tavernas, including Constantine Monoguios’ Fisherman Giorgos & Marina.
- Countless boutiques line Matoyianni Street in Mykonos Town (or Chora). Anything, from designer stores to local, handmade jewelry and more, can be found here.
- Yachtsmen have multiple sand and surf options: Agios Stefanos Beach is popular, with plentiful food and drink choices, while Agia Anna is a quieter scene. Kalafatis Beach is great for watersports.