STUDIO CITY, CA—Homenetmen’s 34th Navasartian Games Victory Ball had all the makings of a Hollywood Premier. More than 500 guests arrived to the CBS Studios back lot in Studio City as the sun began to set. The weather was perfect and the mood surreal. As guests arrived they were greeted with a red carpet entrance. Oscar style gold trophy statues lined the entryway as paparazzi style photographers were capturing the faces of the guest. “It felt like I was at a Hollywood Premier” said Arman Melkonian.
Waiters weaved in and out of the maze of people, passing out gourmet foods and champagne. Guest enjoyed the unique sound of the band Vahagni as they mingled with each other. Wedged in between the façade of an urban neighborhood set, a vast stretch of tables, exotic centerpieces, and a dance floor filled the street where so many of America’s favorite television shows, such as The Sarah Silverman Show and According to Jim, are shot. After the huge success of the 33rd Navasartian Victory Ball, organizers chose to stage the event at the same location, setting a new standard for Armenian banquet culture.
The program began with the invocation and words of spiritual inspiration by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirosian, followed by welcoming remarks by banquet committee member, Elizabeth Boyadjian. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Charlie Ghailian also welcomed the guests as he expressed his thoughts. Ghailian began by speaking about the important role of the Honorary Presidents. As a former honorary President, Ghailian spoke from experience. He continued by highlighting the recent successes of the Western US regional.
Western Regional Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Hovig Bedevian presented the 2009 Exemplary Homenetmen Member award to Zakar Chorbajian for his lifetime of service to the organization. The Exemplary Member award is awarded annually to one member. In a sense, this award is a Homenetmen lifetime achievement award. After the presentation, Zakar Chorbanian delivered an emotional speech, thanking everyone. You could hear a needle drop as he spoke from the heart. Everyone was touched. “This is great honor for the entire Chorbajian family” expressed Nora Tchaparian. “This day will be one that he will cherish forever.”
Steve Artinian, Chairman of Homenetmen Western USA, was invited to the podium to accept a flag of the United States by Congressman Brad Sherman. The flag presented flew over the Capitol on the day President Barack Obama was sworn in. Brad Sherman is a friend of the Armenian American community and stressed in his remarks the importance of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Artinian than delivered his boards message “Tradition is the fuel that drives us. Permanence is what keeps us grounded. This is our winning formula and the past few years are a testament to that. For the thousands of children we serve, we are a safe haven, a second home, a second family. Through our athletic, scouting and educational programs we have served generations. We teach, we inspire, we motivate and we prepare our youth to face the future with optimism and hope.
These are exciting times for Homenetmen in the Western USA. In the past few years, Homenetmen became the proud owner of a 25-acre campground. Our Glendale Ararat Chapter just opened its second athletic facility and is already planning its next expansion. Today hundreds of kids competed for Navasartian gold at our newest athletic facility in Pasadena, CA at the newly completed Pasadena “Azadamard” Chapter gym and headquarters. Our Los Angeles Chapter is months away from opening its new doors to the “Little Armenia” community in Hollywood, CA. The new state of the art western US, 8,500 square foot headquarters is weeks away from completion.
This is a historic year. These historic achievements would not be possible without our amazing members, parents and supporters. Every one of you has played a significant role in realizing the dream.”
Artinian continued with the official introduction of the 34th Navasartian Honorary President. “One of the greatest traditional aspects of Homenetmen has been the role of the Honorary President of the Navasartian Games. A long succession of Honorary Presidents has graced these games for the past three decades. It is fitting to pay tribute and hold in high regard a group of this prominence, not because of what each of them did during their respective terms as presidents, but because each successive honorary president breathed new life into the games. Their support keeps us marching on. To the honorary presidents past and present, Homenetmen is and will profoundly be that “Chalice” which is held high with the greatest of esteem and that which elevates the spirit of an entire community.
And this year is no different. In fact, this year is historic. This year is special because for Homenetmen to have the luxury of former Honorary Presidents by its side is a testament to its powers of attraction. Artinian than continued by announcing the names of the Honorary Presidents of the 34th Navasartian Games. A video presentation featured photos during the announcing. The following is the list of participating Honorary Presidents of 34th Navasartian Games.
9th Navasartian – 1984, Mr. & Mrs. Andy and Aleen Andonian
11th Navasartian – 1986, Dr. Sarkis and Tamara Arevian
17th Navasartian – 1992, Mr. & Mrs. Jirair and Serpoug Sarkissian
21st Navasartian – 1996, Mr. & Mrs. Hratch and Marine Andonian
25th Navasartian – 2000, Mrs. Ashken Pilavjian
26th Navasartian – 2001, Mr. & Dr. Vatche Soghomonian
29th Navasartian – 2004, Mr. & Mrs. Charlie and Julie Ghailian
30th Navasartian – 2005, Mr. & Mrs. Shant and Vergine Haytayan
31st Navasartian – 2006, Mr. & Mrs. Hovsep and Elizabeth Boyajian
33rd Navasartian – 2008, Mr. & Mrs. Vahagn and Baydzar Thomasian
Members of the Regional executive committee presented the Honorary Presidents with a symbolic gift. Artinian concluded the introductions by saying “We salute you, and we honor you for all that you have done for Homenetmen and we thank you for your contributions to the 34th Navasartian Games.”
Artinian continued to address the audience “Time really flies, it feels like it was just yesterday when twenty three years ago, Kirk Krikorian and the Tracinda Corporation along with a about hundred donors made it possible for us to purchase our first Western US headquarters building in Glendale, CA. and we are grateful to all of them.
Today I am proud to announce to you that through the sale of that building and the purchase of a new larger building Homenetmen in the Western USA will have a new permanent headquarters. The new headquarters will facilitate all the needs of this region.
With great pleasure, I am also pleased to announce, that our 4,000 square foot meeting and assembly hall in our new building will be named the “Homenetmen Kevork Andonian Hall” in memory of Kevork Andonian a life long supporter and member of Homenetmen and on this occasion, Alice Andonian is making a generous donation of $200,000.”
Through the request of the Andonian family, Past Honorary President and close family friend Shant Haytayan accompanied Mrs. Andonian to the stage to receive an appreciation plaque. The program ended with words of encouragement and appreciation from Andonian. “We are grateful to the Andonian family and especially for Mrs. Alice Andonian,” expressed Steve Artinian.
The program ended, just around 9:30. There was excitement in the air. “I am so proud of being a Homenetmenagan” said Harout Mardirosian, Chairman of Homenetmen Burbank “Sipan” Chapter. Everyone hit the packed dance floor, dancing to great music late into the night. Homenetmen hit another one out of the park. Mher Tavidian, Chairman of the 34th Navasartian Games expressed the feeling in the air by saying, “Homenetmen is a family, and you truly feel that today. I’m proud of everyone involved. See you, 4th of July weekend at the games”
Photo Credit: Helena Gregorian