20,000 attend 29th Annual Homenetmen Navasartian Closing Ceremonies
By Jenny Kiljian
LOS ANGELES–The 29th Annual Homenetmen Navasartian Games came to a triumphant close on July 4–with a special ceremony at the Grant High School football field–marking the culmination of all activities–as well as the Honorary Presidency of Mr. and Mrs. Charly and Julie Ghailian.
Thousands began to enter the field shortly before 6 o’clock in the evening–to secure seats in order to cheer for their chapters during the parade. They were entertained by the Aline dance troupe–who performed the renowned Vagharshabad Armenian dance. The Homenetmen marching band–under the direction of Harout Kilijian–delighted the crowd with its renditions of Armenian national melodies.
The closing ceremonies officially began with the arrival of Honorary Presidents Charles and Julie Ghailian–Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Homenetmen Central Executive chairman Karnig Megerdichian–ARF Bureau member Viken Hovsepian–ARF Central Committee representative Hovig Saliba–Armenia’s Consul General to the US Gagik Kirakosian–and 2004 Exemplary Homenetmen members Kapriel and Asdghig Panossian.
Homenetmen Television (HTV) personalities Nora Tchaparian and Patil Aposhian-Kassabian served as announcers during the closing ceremonies. Immediately at 6 PM–as they directed the audience to turn attention to the sky–skydivers carrying the American and Armenian flags landed on the field–marking the beginning of the yearly parade.
Taking permission from the Honorary Presidents–Regional Scoutmaster Hrair Boyadjian invited the Homenetmen flag guards to enter the stadium–carrying with them 28 Armenian flags–while the Homenetmen marching band roused the patriotism of the crowd by playing the national anthems of Armenia and the United States–and the Homenetmen anthem.
Master of Ceremonies Stepan Boyajian asked the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of recently deceased Homenetmen members–noting especially Haig Hovsepian–in whose honor the year’s Overall Event trophies were given.
Boyajian also welcomed several special guests–including Glendale City Mayor Bob Yousefian; Glendale City Councilmembers Rafi Manoukian and Frank Quintero; State Senator Jack Scott; Boghos Patatian–Field Representative to State Assemblymember Steve Samuelian; Maria Armoudian–Legislative Analyst for State Senator Richard Alarcon; Glendale Unified School District Board of Education President Greg Krikorian–and Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Jon Lauritzen.
In his address–Homenetmen Regional chairman Viggen Davidian congratulated all the teams who had participated in this year’s tournament–and also to all the chapter executives–coaches–and parents who volunteered their time and supported their athletes and scouts throughout the year. Davidian charged the more than 7,000 members of the Homenetmen Western Region with the task of not only keeping the Homenetmen athletic and scouting alive–but also with passing the torch of Armenian culture and heritage to the next generation of Armenian youth.
Homenetmen Central Executive chairman Karnig Megerdichian came from Lebanon to enjoy the Navasartian festivities with his Armenian-American counterparts. According to Megerdichian–the Western Regional Navasartian Games are a source of pride not only for the chapters who participate each year–but also for the entire Homenetmen family–91 chapters in 10 regions throughout the world.
Megerdichian praised the Homenetmen Western Region for its 29 years of hard work and commitment to the Navasartian Games–also thanking the athletes and parents who have kept the fire of the Armenian heritage alive through their participation in Homenetmen.
Prelate Moushegh Mardirossian addressed the crowd–reminding the spectators and Homenetmen members alike of their strong connection to the homeland–Armenia. Homenetmen–he said–has not only instilled its motto "Elevate Yourself and Others With You" in the hearts and minds of young Armenia’s–but has also allowed the Diaspora to maintain ties to the homeland.
The 2004 Exemplary Homenetmen Members–Mr. and Mrs. Kapriel and Asdghig Panossian of the San Francisco chapter–were then invited to the stage to receive the award for their unparalleled devotion to the organization. The Panossians thanked Homenetmen for this recognition–and reminded the audience of the important role Homenetmen plays in keeping the Armenian language and spirit alive throughout the world.
Then began the much awaited parade–heralded by the Armenian patriotic songs of the Homenetmen marching band. The region’s 19 chapters each took their turn around the field–waving to the cheering spectators. Once the chapters had arrived on the football field–the Western Regional chairman Viggen Davidian–Western Regional Athletic Committee Representative Vicken Apelian–Honorary Presidents Mr. and Mrs. Charly Ghailian–and Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian took the stage to award this year’s Overall Event trophies.
After the trophies were presented–the crowd of thousands left the stadium and headed to the festival area–to be entertained by well-loved singers Joseph Krikorian and Harout Pamboukjian. They patronized the booths–ate delicious Armenian food–and danced until midnight–when the Navasartian Games and festival came to its official close.