Nearly 650 Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter members, longtime supporters and several distinguished civic and community leaders, friends and guests as well as representatives of various community organizations, gathered on the pristine evening of Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at the famous Glendale Civic Center, about which, Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman graciously commented that “though I have been to the Glendale Civic Center for many events over the years, I have never seen it as beautiful and as elegant as this before.” The venue was indeed a sight to behold, leaving all who entered it astounded and in awe as the entire hall, as never before, had been transformed with breathtaking ceiling fixtures and chandeliers, stunning table decorations and floral arrangements.
Guests who attended this very special “Ararat 33 – A Celebration of Our Journey” milestone Gala Banquet were not disappointed. Guests began to arrive at 7:00pm and were welcomed into the venue’s warm and joyous atmosphere, for a pre-dinner cocktail hour reception.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Glendale City Clerk, Ardashes Kassakhian officially opened the program with his opening remarks and offered a poignant tribute in honor of the late Larry Zarian, who much to the community’s grief, passed days before the event. Larry was the former Mayor of the City of Glendale and a longtime friend and ardent supporter of the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter. Kassakhian, then announced the arrival of the esteemed and most honorable guest of the evening, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia and spiritual leader of Armenian Diaspora communities in the Middle East, Europe and North America, who, as part of His official schedule, graciously agreed to pay a special visit, to the Ararat 33 Gala Banquet. His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, and His Pontifical Entourage. After a grand, scouts-lead entrance, Steve Artinian, the Co-Chair of the Pontiff’s Public Relations and Organizing Committee, introduced His Holiness, stressing during his introduction that the Catholicos “is the most inspirational spiritual leader of our time.”
Maria Agopian, beautifully performed both the American and Armenian National Anthems. His Holiness was then invited by Kassakhian to give the invocation. Helik Issagholian, the Chairwoman of The Homentemen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter, was then invited to the podium and shared her remarks on behalf of the Ararat Board of Directors, during which, she welcomed the attendees and expressed her appreciation to all who organized and attended this momentous event. The Mayor of Glendale, Mrs. Laura Friedman was then invited to address the gathering, who during her comments praised the Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter for all of its monumental accomplishments over the years and stated how much the City of Glendale valued “its partnership” with it. Mayor Friedman was followed by Darin Drabing, CEO and president of Forest Lawn Museum and Mortuaries, which was the Major Sponsor for the Gala Banquet. Staunch supporter and longtime friend of the Armenian-American community, Congressman Adam Schiff was then invited to the stage to share his thoughts and remarks. The Congressman’s kind and generous words, during dinner, a special multimedia video showcasing Ararat’s years of service and accomplishments was presented. After dinner Chairwoman Issagholian introduced and invited to the stage His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy, who also shared his thoughts and commended the Ararat Chapter for its contributions and expressed his appreciation for its tireless efforts. In turn, the Prelate, introduced and invited to the stage the evening’s marquee guest, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia who gave a riveting and impassioned message highlighting the pivotal role Ararat plays in shaping the public’s youth and families and ultimately the entire community and commended the Ararat Chapter and offered it His special Pontifical Blessings. After His Holiness’ moving remarks, another special multimedia video pictorial montage showcasing various images captured from some of His Holiness major Pontifical Visits, were presented after which the Pontifical Delegation departed. The time had then come for the entertainment portion of the evening to begin. But not before the Major Sponsors and Main Candle Barer Sponsors of the evening were introduced.
The evening concluded with the entertaining musical performance by Ashot and his band.