VAN NUYS–The 22nd Annual Homenetmen Navasartian Games came to a close Sunday–July 6 at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys–as some 1,500 community members–honored guests and friends of Homenetmen converged on the track stadium to witness one of the most lavish closing ceremonies ever staged.
Presiding over this year’s festivities were honorary presidents–Mr. and Mrs. Garbis and Therese Kemanjian–along with Homenetmen Regional Executive President Mher Davtian–Homenetmen Central Executive members Jirayr Sarkissian and Koko Balian–Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Armenain Revolutionary Federation Western United States Central Committee representative Hovig Saliba.
Also present at Sunday’s event was California Assemblyman Scott Wildman–who represents portions of Hollywood–Glendale and Burbank–and Steve Samuelian representing Fresno Congressman George Radanovich.
Nora Yacoubian served as mistress of ceremonies–welcoming all in attendance Sunday. "The last four days–we all experienced the Navasartian Games–and we created a little Armenia right here on California’s shores," Yacoubian said. "After today–we will all take home with us a little bit more of Armenia and the Armenian spirit."
Davitian spoke next on behalf of the Central Executive–also praising the organizers of the Navasartian Games–and Homenetmen and all its volunteers.
"You–parents–must now carry on the name of Homenetmen–and ensure it survives and prospers for many years to come," Davitian said.
Mr. and Mrs. Kemanjian were invited to speak next–and were thanked for taking on the responsiblity of being this year’s honorary presidents–and for their generous donation of $50,000 to Homenetmen–and the 22nd Navasartian Games.
"I congratulate you today–on America’s Independence–and hope that in the near future–we can say the same for Karabakh," Garbis Kemanjian. "I hope the efforts that got under way 22 years ago will go on strong for many years to come–and that Homenetmen celebrate another 80 years as it has this year."
The Sunday closing ceremonies were attended by an estimated crowd of more than 15,000 individuals from various locales–including several western States–as well as Europe and the Middle East.
More than 40 booths staffed by various Homenetmen Chapters–sister organizations and community business supporters contributed to the exciting atmoshpere of the festival site.
Entertainment was provided by a broad range of performers and artists.
Also adding to the weekend events–was the Victoy Ball held at the Universal Hilton Saturday evening–where more than 1,500 guests gathered to celebrate the spirit of competition and ethnic pride.
Finally–the Parade of Athletes at the closing ceremonies gave all participating athletes a chance to bask in the glory of the Navasartian Games–before returning to preparations for next year’s events.
5,000 athletes and scouts from virtually every Homenetmen chapter took part in the ceremonies.
The parade and ensuing concert offered some surprises–including a unique air show–with three sky divers carrying into the stadium the official flag of the Homenetmen 22nd Navasartian Games flag–which was then presented to the Kemanjians as a traditional jesture of gratitude.
The closing ceremonies were moderated by Ani Hovannisian in English and Garbis Chekherdemian in Armenian. Many media representatives–including several broadcast and print outlets covered the Games extensively. (For more details on the non-Armenian coverage–see Homenetmen News on page 8).
The entire four-day festival and all of the sproting events once again reaffirmed Homenetmen’s presence in the Armenian American community–and illustrated the vital role the organization plays in the future of the Armenian American youth.