Young and old alike–parents–children–grandparents with grandchildren–friends and neighbors–flooded the Glendale Civic Auditorium this past weekend for two fun-filled days of music–art–dance–history and fun–all brought to the community by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Western Region in celebration of the organization’s 93rd anniversary.
Approximately 10,000 attended the ARS-sponsored 2nd Annual Armenian Festival that also featured children’s games–costume show–folk dancing and popular Armenian singers Shushan Petrosyan–Arsham and Emma–Harout Khahoyan–Hovannes Shahbazyan–Mazim Panosian–Armand Bakchejian–Armenchick–Ara Shahbazian–Armen Movsesian–Ararat–Raffi Khardalian.
Attendees crowded booths displaying local goods of small and large business–but mainly products from Armenia to include packaged foods–drinks–books–art and decorative items.
In a word–the City of Glendale was transformed into a little Armenia during the two days of the festival.
The festival officially opened on May 17 at 2:00 PM with a flag ceremony by the Homenetmen’scouts. The ARS Anahid Saturday School students performed the Armenian–US–and ARS anthems–after which the Mistress of Ceremonies Arshalous Darbinyan presented guests: Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero–Glendale City Council member Rafi Manoukian–US Congressman Adam Schiff–Vahig Gurdjian representing California State Senator Jack Scott–ARF Central Committee member Vahe Bozoian–ARS Central Committee member Anahid Meymarian–ANC Western Region chair Raffi Hamparian–Glendale Community College Board of Trustees president Dr. Armine Hacopian–and others.
"The intent of the ARS in organizing this event–is not only to hold a festival–rather to also introduce Armenian culture to the non-Armenian population and specifically to our youth," conveyed ARS CE member Meymarian.
Congressman Adam Schiff presented the ARS a Certificate of Special Recognition for 93 years of outstanding and invaluable service to the community.
On behalf of Sen. Scott–Vahig Gurdjian congratulated the ARS for 93 years of commitment–with a Certificate of Recognition.
"Today–ARS members take pride in their mission and their name that defines 93 years of humanitarian service to communities throughout the world. Devoted members. . . are a splendid example of the dedication–love and hard work that Armenian women have lavished on their families and communites from time immemorial.. . At the turn of the [Twentieth] Century–when disaster struck–the great burden was placed on the shoulders of the Armenian Relief Society. . . they emerged triumphant. Not only did they survive–but also prevailed and prospered." said ARS Western Region Chairman Sonia Peltekian in officially opening the festival.
Peltekian offered heartfelt thanks to festival organizers–the 26 chapters in the region for their financial contribution–and to all donors.
She also conveyed great appreciation to the festival committee– and all the ARS members who helped to bring about the event with their hours of volunteerism and selfless dedication.
Others participating and performing to make the festival even a greater success than last year’s were the Lark Musical Society’s Daveegh dance group–the Vanoush Khanamirian dance school which performed presented a traditional Armenian wedding–the Hamazkayin Nairy and Akhtamar dance groups–the Elize Merdinian Evangelical School and the San Francisco KZV Armenian school which presented a traditional Armenian Costumes–the Ara and Lillia dance school–Vartan and Siranoosh dance school–ARS Saturday schools–and Roupen Haroutiounian who provided traditional Armenian music.