BY CATHERINE YESAYAN
“UNA VIDA ES POCO PARA BARCELONA…” “One life is not enough for Barcelona,” this is a motto I have on aT-shirt I bought in Barcelona a few years back.
Today, I’d like to adapt this saying to Yerevan – “One life is not enough for Yerevan.” Why? Because Yerevan is jam-packed with entertainment and activities. If it’s not the festival of international plays, it is the festival of food or the folk festival or the dance festival or the celebration of Independence Day. The list goes on and on. There is not a moment in Yerevan when nothing is happening.
This year, after spending three months in Yerevan, I still couldn’t experience it all. I even didn’t get a chance to visit the manuscript museum just a block away from my home.
Sunday, October 28, was my last day in Yerevan. My friend had learned from a flyer that was passed to her on the street that there was going to be a costume parade on that Sunday. Both of us, in love with Yerevan and unwilling to miss any opportunity to be outside in the city and bask under the blue sky, decided to meet at Republic Square at noon where we thought the parade would start.
It was a beautiful “Golden Autumn” day. Running late (as I always am), when I got close to the Opera I heard a drum roll. At that moment my cell phone rang. It was my friend telling me that the parade was going to start at the Opera, not Republic Square. “How did we do such things before cell phones?” I wonder.
My friend’s call meant that I didn’t have to run any more: I was already there! I was able to capture the parade from the beginning – Phew!
It was a mini parade about a few hundred kids, divided into different groups of approximately a dozen, each wearing the same costume. They were dressed as animals native to Armenia, such as goats, fish, turtles, storks and other birds. The children had made all their costumes from recyclable materials such as plastic grocery bags or water bottles or used tires.
The parade began at the opera and ran a short distance from Northern Avenue to Republic Square. Instead of stationary spectators at the sidewalks, most people walked along at the sides with the parade. It was a small crowd cheering.
I was so enchanted with this parade, especially with the marching band that was leading it, consisting of six or seven adults in flamboyant and colorful animal costumes. They all looked so glamorous. One was walking on stilts. While marching they were playing upbeat Samba tunes. Later I learned that this was a German band, invited to march in the parade. Chutzpah!
While I was busy taking pictures, I could hear my friend in the background making comments and admiring the parade: “Oh, look at [this or that]. How creative! What a beautiful job!” Indeed, it was a wonderful parade. I cannot remember being so delighted with any other parade, and I’ve seen many.
When the parade reached Republic Square, the marchers met with some dance groups who had traveled to Yerevan from different regions of the country. These youngsters were wearing their traditional dance costumes. One of the groups I talked to had come from Gyumri, about three hours away.
At Republic Square, buses were waiting to transport parade participants to Yerevan Zoo so they could continue the celebration over there.
The parade had been organized by the Foundation for the Preservation of Wild Life and Cultural assets (FPWC). The foundation manages the Yerevan Zoo. This was their third year organizing a parade to raise awareness about preserving the environment and wild life.
Besides providing a colorful and entertaining parade to raise awareness, the FPWC implements other programs and youth projects such as Green School, Sunchild Eco-club and SOS Culture youth club. The program activities include garbage cleaning, tree-planting, environmental campaigns and a day of art-painting. This was another dimension of positive youth work in Yerevan, and it came as a surprise to me.
On December 14, FPWC is having a fundraising event at Marriott Hotel in Yerevan. Anyone interested in learning more about the program may contact:
Foundation for the Preservation of
Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC)
# 20 Myasnikyan street
Phone: + 374 (0) 10562362
Mobile: + 374 (0) 77088344