BIRMINGHAM, CA–Last Sunday saw the conclusion of the 34th Navasartian Games, but not without the frenzy and excitement that accompanied it. Armenians from across this state and neighboring states, such as Nevada and Arizona, were determined to take part and witness the 4th of July festivities, and under no uncertain terms were they going to miss the largest annual event their community has. Not when it was becoming abundantly clear that this would yet be another attendance record breaking year. Well it was, and it showed. As vendors scrambled to put their name up at this year’s 4 day festival, attendance matched and surpassed last year’s record, and that is a testament to Homenetmen’s followers and volunteers, who pledged excellence and at the same time discarded mediocrity into obscurity.
Blessed with communication skills, Homenetmen’s savvy in relaying its message across with clarity was evident thanks to its volunteers, whose cohesive work in using the media and internet resulted in the most successful festival the Navasartian Games had seen to date. Upon reading the newspaper articles in Asbarez, visiting the dedicated website for this year’s games, watching television and getting on Facebook to connect, people had never before been so well informed and with so much ease. Armed with pertinent information about game schedule, festival information and entertainment schedule, the community converged at the Navasartian Games with an appreciation for its existence. With the country suffering from torrid economic times and in dire straits, and with many families opting to be financially prudent by having not to travel far, but instead “staycationing,” they came in droves to partake in this year’s Navasartian Games, and with smiles on everyone’s faces.
As more than 3,000 athletes competed for glory from the start of the games back in May, the Navasartian Games reached its zenith during the four days of the festival, and that’s when the playoffs were being hotly contested with many teams vying to make it to the finals in order to bring their respective chapters the much sought after trophies. With soccer, swimming, tennis, ping pong, track and field and basketball trophies up for grabs, a lot was at risk, and that heightened the competitive nature of the athletes, which in turn brought more excitement to the games. Family members, relatives, friends and chapter members all joined in the cheering and that electrified the atmosphere and pushed the athletes to elevate their game. The basketball finals ended right about the time popular singer Karnig Sarkissian was close to finishing his concert, at the twilight of the Navasartian Games, which was close to midnight on Sunday,July 5.
Entertainment was plentiful as well, as many artists and singers made their way through hoards of children and adult crowds chanting and cheering them on for four long evenings. Harout Pamboukjian, Karnig Sarkissian, Hoylari and Joseph Krikorian, just to mention a few, entertained record breaking attendees for hours on end making sure that the 34th Navasartian Games Festival was to be one to be remembered for quite sometime to come. Of course, it helped to have fireworks on the opening day, as it is traditionally done, to set the tone for the festival and to ensure the crowds’ expectations were met. Add to that the many vendors who were on hand displaying many eye-catching gifts and products that were on sale, the food court with many tasty offerings, from coffee, to desserts, to juices and beverages, and plenty of food to satisfy every taste.
Just as the adults were being entertained, kids enjoyed their own form of entertainment through “Kids Day.” The Navasartian Committee, which was in charge of many aspects of the festival, had the forethought to establish a type of setting for children with amusement games. A Dunk Tank and various other games were on offer for kids to keep themselves vastly entertained and out of trouble. And since this is the “Year of The Youth,” Homenetmen made sure they were accounted for as they always have in the past. After all, the Navasartian Games belong to our youth, our center of attention, with us adults revolving around them with reckless abandon, always thinking of them primarily and always putting them ahead of ourselves.
With so much happening on such a historic occasion, and as time passed quickly, the Navasartian Games began to wind down, but not before the traditional Sunday afternoon parade that saw Homenetmen’s fanfair take the lead, and not before “His Eminence,” Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian’s ever eloquent tone resonated to the tens of thousands of attendees assuring them with his blessings, and in particular the youth, since this is the year that we all celebrate the, “Year of The Youth.”
As words of wisdom and encouragement ended, the ever so punctual Navasartian Games Closing Committee and scores of its volunteers ushered in the various chapters with their executive committees, scouts and athletes smart looking and fully uniformed, to parade around the stadium. Australia, a guest and a breath of fresh air at this year’s games, took part in the parade wearing traditional Australian hats that people took a liking to. It is always wonderful to have a guest country represented at the Navasartian Games. With the Aussies in town, they truly impressed. As thousands paraded around the stadium, a blast of confetti was shot through the air giving the Navasartian Games an appropriate send-off and setting the right mood for the attendees to flock to the festival area for the remaining several hours for a last “hurrah” before the final closure of the Navasartian Games.
This year’s record setting attendance reminded us yet again that, Homenetmen as a 91 year old organization, has managed for a better part of a century, to stand the test of time, and to cement itself here and now, as a leading organization in the Armenian Community, without which our youth would find itself yearning for direction with no one else available to muster such a feat.
With an agenda to build and prepare future community leaders through discipline, healthy minds and bodies, Homenetmen has the kind of pull that is unmatched and untouchable. Anyone that thinks it could match and provide the type of service and care that Homenetmen has provided for nearly a century would quickly come to realize that it is an exercise in futility. It is not easy to build the kind of foundation and structural solidity that Homenetmen has, and even more difficult to attract the kind of volunteerism that makes this type of non-profit organization tick and find the kind of success that it has. It’s an endurance test, one which Homenetmen passed with flying colors long ago, and if last Sunday was any indication, it proved once again that ambitions are high in the hallowed halls of Homenetmen.
The Western United States Regional Executive Committee is relentlessly pursuing a legacy that will endear Homenetmen to the far reaches of the Armenian Community to bring in the youth and the volunteers to ensure its longevity. With this type of ambition, legacy and pull, it should leave no one in doubt that Homenetmen’s “Shoushana-Dzaghik” and “Vahan” are, and will always be,
“The Sign of The Times.”
Navasartian Games Photo Gallery
Photo Credit: Helena Grigorian