VAN NUYS–More than 12,000 people flocked to Birmingham High School athletic field on Tuesday to spend the July 4 holiday at the Homenetmen’s 25th Navasartian Games and witness the impressive closing ceremonies which ended more than a month of athletic competition.
The Ararat mountains were reconstructed at the center of the field and the stage was adorned by trophies and medals which would become the property of winning athletes and their teams. Colorful pipes depicted the region’s 18 Homenetmen chapters and the Navasartian torch burned at the center of the field.
At 4:30 p.m.–the Homenetmen Regional Scouting Council members–accompanied by Regional Executive chairman Manuel Marselian led the procession of guests to the field. The procession included the 25th Navasartian Honorary president Ashkhen Pilavjian and Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
Following the ceremonial permission by the Honorary President–the Homenetmen regional scout master Harout Madenian presented the cue for the commencement of the closing ceremonies–at which time the Homenetmen color-guard bearing the flags of the US–Armenia–the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic–Homenetmen and the state flags of California–Arizona–Nevada and Utah. A second color-guard bearing the flags of the US and Armenia’symbolizing the 25th Navasartian Games made their ceremonial entrance on to the field. The US and Armenian national anthems were performed by Hovig Krikorian while Haratch Nahadag was performed by the Homenetmen Western Regional marching band.
Following the flag ceremony–Master of Ceremonies Viggen Davidian presented the special guests of the Navasartian Closing Ceremonies–among them were Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Armenia’s Consul to Los Angeles–Norair Ghoulamian; the Homenetmen Navasartian honorary president Ashkhen Pilavjian; Homenetmen Central Executive member Koko Balian and Jirair Sarkissian; Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee member Mardig Gaboudian; the representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the Middle East Garo Kebabjian; the year 2000 Exemplary Homenetmen member Shant Haytayan; Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.); Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-43); Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti; Glendale City Councilman Rafi Manoukian; representative of Assemblyman Jack Scott (D-44)–Paul Patatian; Republican candidate for the 43rd Assembly District Craig Missakian; Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region board member Karekin Khanjian and the formed chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America Mourad Topalian.
Following the introductions–Davidian invited Rep. Sherman to the podium–who after highlighting the importance of Homenetmen activities presented Marselian with a US flag which flew over Capitol Hill as a symbol of Homenetmen’s contribution to American life. A similar gesture was made by State Assemblyman Scott Wildman–who presented a proclamation on behalf of the State Assembly and praised Homenetmen’s in the education of the youth.
Davidian then read the congratulatory notes sent to the Homenetmen on the occasion of the Navasartian Games from President Bill Clinton and Governor Gray Davis.
The MC welcomed the 12,000 community members and thanked all of them for their support of Homenetmen activities. He also called for a moment of silence for all the Homenetmen members who have passed away–leaving their eternal mark on the organization.
Past Homenetmen president were invited to light the Navasartian torch. Participating in this ceremony were Hagop Ovayan–Stepan Baghboudarian–Sarkis Arevian–Garbis Chekherdemian–Maggie Sarkouni–Haig Hovsepian–Koko Balian–Shant Haytayan–Raffi Sarkissian–Mher Tavidian and Manuel Marselian.
In his remarks–Marselian reported on the accomplishmen’s of the Homenetmen and expressed the organization’s gratitude to the countless volunteers and members who make the games a possibility every year.
Marselian also made special mention of Honorary President Ashkhen Pilavjian and Exemplary Member Shant Haytayan–who have demonstrated their commitment to the goals and ideals of the organization through their moral and financial contribution to the Homenetmen.
Bishop Mardirossian commenced his blessing remarks by praising Homenetmen on its continued efforts to realize the mission of educating generations of Armenia’s throughout the world.
Following the Bishop’s address–the long-awaited parade of athletes and Homenetmen members began–after the command from Scout troop master Harout Madenian. One by one the 18 chapters began to march around the track–bearing the tri-color flags and the names of the respective chapters. For the first time–the newly established Homenetmen Walnut Creek chapter took part in the parade and received ovations for its participation. Also taking part in the parade were the athletes from Armenian Black Belts Association.
The parade announcers Regional Executive member Garbis Chekherdemian and Horizon Television English news anchor Ani Hovannisian outlined each chapter’s achievemen’s and Navasartian wins.
Following the parade–Bishop Mardirossian was joined on the stage by Pilavjian–Marselian–Balian–Sarkissian and Western Regional Athletic Council chairman Raffi Ispendjian for the distribution of trophies and medals. This was followed by an exuberant performance by the Glendale Hamazkayin Dance Troupe. This performance was followed by a martial arts show presented by the Los Angeles ABBA chapter.
The finale of the evening included the participation of well-known singer Harout Pamboukjian who emerged from the peak of the Massis mountain at the center of the field. He was joined by the Homenetmen Ararat Dance Troupe choreographer Vartan Aghajanian who led his dancers in a dance accompanied by songs by Harout Pamboukjian. The Homenetmen Emblem shined in the middle of the two peaks–symbolizing the organization’s commitment to preserving the Armenian heritage.
Before closing the event–State Sen. Adam Schiff–who had just arrived at the ceremony–greeted the excited crowd in Armenian and commended the Homenetmen for its efforts in providing a healthy alternative to the Armenian youth. He also presented a US flag which flew over the State Capitol.
The evening’s festivities continued into the late hours at the Navasartian festival–the details of which will be presented in the following weeks.