Armenian Relief Society Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

Gerard Santos

The Armenian Relief Society continues growth by having members from Lebanon, Argentina, Brazil and Canada all gather to celebrate its ninth annual Armenian festival in the Glendale Civic Auditorium on May 1.

Slideshow media credit Edgar Santacruz

The society celebrates its 100 years of service this year and boasted a festival that didn’t shy away from the red, blue and orange – as evident through the endless balloons, signs and banners sprawled all throughout Glendale Boulevard. The large crowd consisted not just of Armenians but local families and packed the auditorium, participating in festivities that lasted throughout the day.

Along with big-name sponsor Wells Fargo, were a myriad of local bakeries, restaurants and businesses like the Carousel Restaurant, Porto’s Bakery, Trader Joes and Costco. This made for an abundance of food served at the festival, including a large barbecue pit outside that gave off a very alluring scent.

The festival opened its doors at 2 p.m. starting with a flag ceremony by the Homenetmen Scouts, anthems by Armenian Relief Society members and its school children, and an invocation by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.

Throughout the afternoon dance performances by the Erebouni Dance Group, Lillia Dance Studio, Ani Dance Company, Karavan Dance Studio and Saro’s Dance Classes were held.

Edgar Sahakyan, a 25-year-old former GCC student, was one of the many who enjoyed the performances. “I love it here because I can celebrate my culture with my family and many familiar faces,” Sahakyan said. “The dance routines are always fun to watch because they’re just local people who work at Armenian bakeries and restaurants down the block, and to see them also celebrating with you is always a good experience.”

After the dance routines were finished, the area was designated for children to play without the worry of their parents. There were play stations that included a miniature basketball hoop and finger painting.

On sale and exhibited all over the auditorium were paintings, ceramics, sculptures and hand-crafted figurines all done by Armenian artists. One particular artist was selling hand-made sculptures glistening with rubies and sapphires.

Also in abundance were historical exhibits that showed significant landmarks in the Armenian history timeline, including the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia.

When asked what the importance was of having this festival for Armenian families like his, 35-year-old Vahe Gregoryan said “It’s tremendous. To have ceremonies celebrating Armenian history is one thing, but to teach it to everyone else is bigger. I think it’s very important to never forget where you came from, because it has served as a stepping stone to where our culture is going in the future.”

The Armenian Relief Society was created in 1910 by Edgar Agnouni to educate and provide humanitarian assistance to Armenians across the globe.