Armenian Independence Day

Sarah Elkeaikati

To celebrate Armenian Independence from the USSR in 1991, Nor Serount, which translates to “new generation,” a non-profit cultural association, held an annual festival in Verdugo Park on Sept. 23 to bring together the food, music, and people of Armenian heritage as a celebration of their independence and to represent the culture.

The festival, which went into its ninth year, included live entertainment, toys and games for children, and about 30 booths from different business and organizations.

For $10, children could jump on any one of the three moon bounces or play several of the booth games, which included prizes such as toys and gold fish.

Volunteers from the Gaidz Youth Organization were responsible for the moon bounces and children’s games, and held a booth which sold candy, toys and jewelry to profit their organization.

“[The festival] gets better every year,” said Armig Khodanian, a Gaidz youth member.

Non-profit organizations included the Armenian International Medical Fund which assists the deaf and mute children of Armenia by providing them with an implanted cochlear hearing device.

Also, the Anahid Fund, an organization that was established to prevent the decline of the Armenian population by providing women with proper maternity care, was promoting its cause and accepting contributions.

Additionally, the Armenian Evangelical Brethren Church of Pasadena held a booth to advertise its new one-hour television program, “Hour of Truth.”

“The show talks about our identity as Armenians and Christians and focuses on the Bible,” said church member Khatchik Chahinian.

There were a number of vendors at the event providing the attendees with make-up brushes, grapeseed oil, Persian rugs, jewelry and more.

Glendale Kia, a sponsor, held a raffle. Tickets were $10 and the prize was a 2006 white Kia Optima.

Moon Mart catered the event and provided guests with kabob platters and other pastries were available courtesy of Nor Serount.

Emcees Shelly Tavoukjian and Steven Hovaguimian welcomed the guests, who arrived in the thousands, and introduced the singers and other entertainers of the day.

Seven well-known Armenian singers, including Sako, Joseph Krikorian, Armen Aloyan, and Adis, entertained the guests, while Merujan Markaryan serenaded them on his violin. Lidia Dance Group also performed a traditional Armenian dance routine for the crowd.

Despite the heavy rain the day before the event, the sun was shining and the show went on.

Nor Serount member Gary Sinanian said “When you organize an event that promotes something positive, God won’t let you down.”

Sinanian said the main goal of the event was to promote the Armenian culture, especially to the younger generation.

The independent republic of Armenia was annexed by the Soviet army in 1920 and became part of the USSR in 1922. It was not until 1991, during the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Armenia was able to gain its independence.

Nor Serount plans to hold the Independence Day festival for years to come.
Nor Serount member Seta Khodanian said “[Nor Serount] organizes events like this as well as concerts and book signings to represent our culture.”

Although the limited parking posed a small setback for the guests and event planners, the event was a success and the guests were more than entertained.

“Each year it gets bigger and better,” said Sinanian.