Armenian Independence Day was celebrated by more than 10,000 people and various entertainers for the 10th straight year at Verdugo Park on Sept. 21.
This year’s festival was co-sponsored by the City of Glendale, and was organized by the Nor Serount Cultural Association, which provided business booths, live performances and Armenian foods.
The festivities began with the American national anthem, followed by the Armenian national anthem. Then the crowd was entertained by well-known Armenian performers such as Robert Chilingarian, Harut Hakopyan, Sokrat, and the Vartan & Siranush Gevorkian Dance Academy.
The performers sang some traditional songs and some new modern songs, while the dancers wore special outfits to celebrate the ethnic traditions which are common in Armenia.
Besides the attractions on stage, there were many booths that provided products and services from the Armenian culture. Several diverse business sponsors, such as Pacific Western Bank, Glendale Medical Pharmacy, and Sarkis Pastry among others, were selling their products and getting their names known. Some booths sold jewelry, some sold pottery, others sold Armenian food, and still others provided carnival games for the children.
The event was very family-oriented, as seen by the jumpers set up for kids, the backgammon games played by the elders, and the famous kabob cookouts established on the outskirts of the park every few yards away from each other.
When walking around the park, the smell of food from the food court and the sounds of the folk songs really bought out the best qualities of Armenian culture.
A registered nurse at the first aid booth, Rosine Der-Tavitian, also a nursing professor at Pasadena City College, said that the event’s main goal was “to keep the youth off the streets and to bring them all into a cultural oriented, safe environment.”
One of the organizers of the event, and former GCC student, Garry Sinanian, voiced his appreciation for the yearly festivals held at Verdugo Park. “We’re really quite proud of the event. We’re glad that in a city like Glendale, we’re able to share a piece of our culture every year.
“It’s a great way for cultures to come together, enjoy Armenian music, food, and dance,” Sinanian said.
Armenian Independence Day commemorates the day that Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union on Sept. 21, 1991, making this its 17th year of independence.
This year’s Independence Day festival was celebrated with much excitement, but it only sets a higher precedent for next year’s gathering. The Nor Serount Cultural Association will hopefully make a bigger celebration for next year, and for many more years to come.