By Kevork Keushkerian
The 7th annual Identity Festival organized by the Armenian Community Coalition of Pasadena was a smashing success on Sunday, July 20, 2015. Victory Park that day was transformed into a bee hive with more than 4,000 people, Armenians and non-Armenians alike, from all walks of life were in and out through out the day from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. in the evening. This event was cosponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu, The City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Library.
The theme of the day was to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the first Armenian settlement in the city of Pasadena, which was incorporated into cityhood just three years earlier. I was pleasantly impressed that the Mistresses of the Ceremony were young and talented Armenian Ladies from our community, namely Nayri Krouzian and Serah Chahinian, who masterfully conducted the program in English and Armenian respectively. Another young artist, Sevag Chahinian, was the D.J. for the day.
The festivities of the day began with an acapela rendition of the American and Armenian National Anthems by Maral Kurdian, a junior at the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Vatche and Tamar Manougian High School in Pasadena. She mesmerized the audience by her beautiful voice.
Among the dignitaries attending the festival was Congresswoman Judy Chu, who reflected upon the contributions of some the famous Armenian scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, who had helped advance the technology, which made America a better place to live and prosper. She then presented several Certificates of Congressional Recognition to some of the hard working members of the Armenian Community Coalition of Pasadena.
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, addressing the audience said that “This festival demonstrates how deep the roots are for the Armenian community. We welcome and celebrate different cultures and learn from one another. That makes Pasadena a more enjoyable and a more stimulating city.”
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez congratulated the Armenian Community Coalition on the occasion of the 7th annual Identity Festival and said that “We have a great city and a great police department and many of the lessons learned come from our Armenian brothers and sisters. The influence you have in Pasadena is extraordinary, in medicine, engineering, and entrepreneurship.” He then continued saying, “I’m proud to announce that in the great history of the Pasadena Police Department, about six months ago, we hired our first Armenian woman.”
Assemblyman Chris Holden and Glendale City Councilwoman Lorry Friedman also addressed the audience, congratulating the Armenian Community Coalition and reiterating the important role of the Armenians in their respective district and city.
Dr. Hovhannes Ahmaranian and Kevork Keushkerian spoke on behalf of the Armenian Community Coalition of Pasadena in Armenian and English, respectively. They both dwelled upon the fact that Armenians had settled in Pasadena 125 years ago and that now the Armenian population in Pasadena had grown to have 4 schools, 6 churches, 4 cultural organizations and 2 weekly newspapers.
They also mentioned that the first settler, Mr. Movses Pashgian, had become the Grand Marshall in the Tournament of Roses Parade in 1915. Coincidentally, 100 years later, the first Armenian Rose Float will parade along the 5.5 mile route on Colorado Blvd. on January 1, 2015. This will be a unique opportunity for Armenians to share their 7000 year old rich cultural heritage with the whole world, making them proud and resolute to pass the torch on to the next generation.
Entertainment was provided throughout the day by a selected host of singers and dancers; such as Nshan Tchaghatsbanian, Kevork Chakmayan, Gantegh (Lantern) choir, Pateel (Snow Flake) and Nor Serount (New Generation) Dance Groups and Vartan & Seranoush Kevorkian Dance Ensemble. The audience was elated by their performances and gave them loud applauses and constantly shouted words of praise.
Finally, it was time for cutting the 125th anniversary cake. Congresswoman Chu, Mayor Bogaard and Police Chief Sanchez, along with Chris Chahinian, Chairman of the Armenian Community Coalition of Pasadena participated in the cake cutting ceremony. The cake was donated by Sarkis Pastry of Pasadena. The cake was big enough to satisfy all the children and the adults of the community who happened to be there at around 4:30 p.m.