at the park, for the sixth annual Armenian Independence Day
Festival. Thousands of Armenian Americans descended on Verdugo Park,
1621 Canada Blvd., to celebrate their independence with traditional
song, dance and poetry.
The three men had staked out a picnic table next to a grill, with
plans to sing, dance, play chess and, of course, eat.
"We go to this festival every year. It's a family reunion -- an
Armenian reunion," Ohannessian said.
The annual festival took on the appearance of an enormous family
reunion, with thousands of people staking out grassy floor space with
folded chairs, beach chairs, blankets and card tables in front of the
stage to watch live Armenian singers and dancers.
Maryam Abedian, of Montrose, wandered toward the picnic tables,
intent on discovering what was going to happen at the festival.
"We came because we want to see what they're going to do -- the
singing, the dancing," she said. "I also see my family here. At this
place, you can find family, friends."
The Nor Serount Cultural Assn. and the Gaidz Youth Organization
organized the event to celebrate Armenian culture and commemorate
Armenia's independence from the former Soviet Union, which was on
Sept. 21, 1991. Organizers expected between 5,000 and 6,000 people to
attend the festival.
Throughout the day, families poured through the entrances,
clutching chairs, as children rushed by with balloons in hand, or on
bikes or Rollerblades. Dignitaries like Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La
Canada Flintridge) and Councilman Frank Quintero, were also on hand,
wishing everyone a happy independence day.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich sent a
representative and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Glendale) was also scheduled
to attend, organizer Garry Sinanian said.
It's a privilege to be able to go to a festival to enjoy music and
food, he said.
"As Armenian Americans, we're proud to have the freedom to enjoy
our culture," Sinanian said. "This is a great way for the community
to come together."