BY DONIG L. DONABEDIAN
Last Saturday saw the conclusion of the 39th Navasartian Games, but not without the frenzy and excitement that accompanied it. Armenian Americans from up and down the state were determined to take part in the festivities, and under no uncertain terms were they going to miss the largest annual event their community had to offer. Not when it was becoming abundantly clear that this would yet be another attendance record breaking year. Well it was, and it showed. As vendors scrambled to put their name up at this year’s 4 day festival, attendance matched and surpassed last year’s record, and that is a testament to Homenetmen’s followers and volunteers, who pledged excellence and at the same time discarded mediocrity into obscurity.
Blessed with communication skills, Homenetmen’s savvy in relaying its message across with clarity was evident thanks to its volunteers, whose cohesive work in using the media and internet resulted in the most successful festival the Navasartian Games had seen to date. The community converged on the Navasartian Games with an appreciation for its existence. With smiles on their faces, they came in droves to partake in this year’s Navasartian Games.
As more than 3,200 athletes competed for glory from the start of the games back in May, the Navasartian Games reached its zenith during the four days of the festival, and that’s when the playoffs were being hotly contested with many teams vying to make it to the finals in order to bring their respective chapters the much sought after trophies. With volleyball, soccer, swimming, tennis, ping pong, chess, track and field and basketball trophies up for grabs, a lot was at risk, and that heightened the competitive nature of the athletes, which in turn brought more excitement to the games. Family members, relatives, friends and Homenetmen members joined in the cheering and that in turn created a buzz in the atmosphere and pushed the athletes to elevate their games.
Entertainment was plentiful as well, as many artists and singers made their way through hoards of children and adult crowds chanting and cheering them on for four long evenings. Harout Pamboukjian, Hoy Lari, Krisdapor Arabian and Joseph Krikorian, just to mention a few, entertained the record breaking attendance for hours on end making sure that the 39th Navasartian Games Festival was one to be remembered sometime to come. Of course it helped to have the traditional fireworks to set the tone for the final day of the festival and to ensure the crowds’ expectations were met. Add to that the many vendors who were on hand displaying many eye-catching gifts and products that were on sale, the food court with many tasty offerings, from coffee, to desserts, to juices and beverages, and plenty of food to satisfy every taste.
Just as the adults were being entertained, kids enjoyed their own form of entertainment through Kids’ Carnival. The Navasartian Organizing Committee, which was in charge of many aspects of the festival, had set up carnival rides for children to enjoy. After all, the Navasartian Games belong to the youth, the center of our attention, with us adults revolving around them with reckless abandon, always thinking of them primarily and always putting them ahead of ourselves.
With so much happening time passed quickly, the Navasartian Games began to wind down, but not before the traditional closing ceremony parade. As the tradition demands, his Eminence, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian delivered his annual address to the tens of thousands of attendees assuring them with his blessings.
As words of wisdom and encouragement ended, the Navasartian Games Closing Committee and scores of its volunteers ushered in the chapters with their executive committees, scouts and athletes smart looking and fully uniformed to parade around the stadium. As fireworks broke out at the stadium the crowds cheered, giving the Navasartian Games an appropriate send-off, and setting the right mood for the attendees to flock to the festival area for the remaining several hours of the 39th Navasartian Games.
This year’s record setting attendance reminded us yet again that, Homenetmen as a 96 year old organization, has managed for a better part of a century, to stand the test of time, and to cement itself here and now, as a leading organization in the Armenian American Community, without which the youth would find itself yearning for direction with no one else available to muster such a feat. With an agenda to build and prepare future community leaders through discipline, healthy minds and bodies, Homenetmen has the kind of pull that is unmatched and unsurpassed. It is not easy to build the kind of foundation and structural solidity that Homenetmen has, and even more difficult to attract the kind of volunteerism that makes this non-profit organization tick and find the kind of success that it has. It’s an endurance test, one which Homenetmen passed with flying colors long ago, and if last Sunday was any indication, it proved once again that ambitions are high in the hallowed halls of Homenetmen. The Homenetmen Western United States Regional Executive Committee is relentlessly pursuing a legacy that will endear Homenetmen to the far reaches of the Armenian Community to bring in the youth and the volunteers to ensure its longevity. With this type of ambition, legacy and pull, it should leave no one in doubt that it will reach these goals.
The Homenetmen Western U.S. Regional Executive would like to extend its gratitude to the Navasartian Organizing Committee for producing the grandest event in the Armenian American community in Western United States. Also, to the members, supporters, followers and sponsors that made the 39th Navasartian Games possible.