GLENDALE—Nearly 650 Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter members, longtime supporters and several distinguished civic and community leaders, friends and guests joined the Homenetmen “Ararat” Executive Board, representatives of various community organizations, gathered on the pristine evening of Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at the famous Glendale Civic Center, about which, Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman graciously commented that “though I have been to the Glendale Civic Center for many events over the years, I have never seen it as beautiful and as elegant as this before.” The venue was indeed a sight to behold, leaving all who entered it astounded and in awe, as the entire hall, had been transformed, as never before, with breathtaking ceiling fixtures and chandeliers, stunning table decorations and floral arrangements and covered from wall to wall with spectacular professional lighting illumination effects.
Guests had come from far and wide, to attend this very special “Ararat 33 – A Celebration of Our Journey” milestone Gala Banquet and none were disappointed. Guests began to arrive at 7:00pm at the Glendale Civic Auditorium and were greeted by Mrs. Jasik Jarahian, the Chairwoman of the Ararat 33 Gala Banquet Organizing Committee, along with Ararat Executives, Major Event Patrons, Candle bearer sponsors, benefactors, sponsors, donors, table sponsors and honored guests and were welcomed into the venue’s warm and joyous atmosphere, for a pre-dinner cocktail hour reception where they had the opportunity to catch up with their friends, mingle with other guests and converse with event organizers and partake of the lavish appetizers and Hors d’oeuvres reception.
After guests had an opportunity to socialize with one another and enjoy the fine cuisine provided, they were invited to assemble in the venue’s main hall to begin the formal dinner and program portion of the event. Once guests were seated, the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Glendale City Clerk, Ardashes Kassakhian officially opened the program with his opening remarks and offered a poignant tribute in honor the late Larry Zarian, who much to the community’s grief, passed days before the event. Larry was the former Mayor of the City of Glendale and a longtime friend and ardent supporter of the Homenetmen “Ararat” Glendale Chapter. Kassakhian, then announced the arrival of the esteemed and most honorable guest of the evening, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia and spiritual leader of Armenian Diaspora communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America, who, as part of His official schedule, graciously agreed to pay a special visit, to the Ararat 33 Gala Banquet. His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, and His Pontifical Entourage, which consisted of Religious and Executive Councils, various clergy members, community leaders and Pontifical Visit Committee members. After a grand, scouts-lead entrance, Steve Artinian, the Co-Chair of the Pontiff’s Public Relations and Organizing Committee, introduced His Holiness, stressing during his introduction that the Catholicos “is the most inspirational spiritual leader of our time.”
Kasshakhian, then invited Maria Agopian who beautifully performed both the American and Armenian National Anthems. His Holiness was then invited by Kassakhian to give the invocation. Helik Issagholian, the Chairwoman of The Homentemen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter, was then invited to the podium and shared her remarks on behalf of the Ararat Board of Directors, during which, she welcomed the attendees and expressed her appreciation to all who organized and attended this momentous event. The Mayor of Glendale, Mrs. Laura Friedman was then invited to address the gathering, who during her comments praised the Homenetmen “Ararat” Glendale Chapter for all of its monumental accomplishments over the years and stated how much the City of Glendale valued “its partnership” with it. Mayor Friedman was followed by Darin Drabing of Forest Lawn Museum and Mortuaries, which was the Major Sponsor for the Gala Banquet, to whom Armond Gorgorian, the Executive Director and Chairwoman Helik Issagholian, presented a certificate of recognition, for their steadfast support for the Homenetmen Ararat Chapter.
Staunch supporter and longtime friend of the Armenian-American community, Congressmember Adam Schiff was then invited to the stage to share his thoughts and remarks. The Congressman’s kind and generous words were followed by the announcement that the time for dinner had arrived, during which, a special multimedia video showcasing Ararat’s years of service and accomplishments was presented. After dinner Chairwoman Issagholian introduced and invited to the stage Western Prelae Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian who also shared this thoughts and commended the Ararat Chapter for its contributions and expressed his appreciation for its tireless efforts. In turn, the Prelate, introduced and invited to the stage the evening’s marquee guest, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia who gave a riveting and impassioned message highlighting the pivotal role Ararat plays in shaping the public’s youth and families and ultimately the entire community and commended the Ararat Chapter and offered it His special Pontifical Blessings. After His Holiness’ moving remarks, another special multimedia video pictorial montage showcasing various images captured from some of His Holiness major Pontifical Visits, were presented after which the Pontifical Delegation departed. The time had then come for the entertainment portion of the evening to begin. But not before Kasskhian introduced and announced the Major Sponsors and Main Candle Barer Sponsors of the evening and made his closing remarks and marking the beginning of the entertainment portion of the evening.
“When we first set out to host this Gala Banquet, we wanted to spare nothing and committed to taking great pains to host a grand and fitting banquet to showcase this “Ararat 33” milestone to the community and offer it the grandest of Ararat’s Gala Banquets. We wanted to offer our friends and supporters an unprecedented experience and tonight’s event unequivocally proves that we achieved our objectives and accomplished just that!” stated Helik Issagholian, the Chairwoman of The Homentemen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter.
The evening concluded with the entertaining musical performances of the famed Ashod and His Band and Alén, a local renowned Violinist and with guests eating, drinking, dancing and enjoying one another’s company, surrounded by beauty of the venue and its offerings. “everything is so beautiful and everyone is pleased and happy,” stated Anno Mansourian “It is obvious a lot of work went into this event and the success of it all is evidenced in peoples smiles and positive comments.”
“All who attended, unanimously offered that they were very pleased with our event and that they were overjoyed to have been in attendance. Our guests unanimously affirmed their delight in the event and copiously expressed their deep appreciations to us for hosting such an unforgettable, pleasurable, interesting, impassioned and inspiring program, all of which left our guests informed, impressed, ecstatic and energized and shared with us that they were already looking forward to attending the next Ararat Gala Banquet,” stated Paruir Akopian, the Chairman of Friends of Ararat Committee. “The Friends of Ararat Committee has been instrumental in raising money to fund Ararat’s activities.”
Homenetmen is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit volunteer driven, service based organization that serves the Armenian-American community. Affiliated to the Boys Scouts of America, the organization’s mission is to prepare exemplary and law abiding citizens by providing physical and health education, endowing the mind and soul with the finest spirit of sportsmanship, and developing and understanding of responsibility and honor as they strive for individual and collective excellence. Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter, was founded on December 15, 1978 and is currently the largest of the Homenetmen’s 19 Chapters in Western United States Region and the most successful chapter within the Homenetmen global network, whose active volunteer base is currently over 2,400 members strong. Since its founding the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” chapter has maintained a long history of selfless service and devotion to fostering the development of strong and healthy families, communities and young people.