The 11th annual Armenian Independence Day Festival at Verdugo Park featured live music, dancing, moon bounces and carnival games for children. Booths ranging from Armenian charities, U.S. Bank, homemade jewelry and ethnic T-shirts encircled a stage where musicians belted out traditional and modern Armenian music.
Festival-goers were of all ages and backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the diaspora Armenian community in Southern California, organizers said.
“We’ve met people from other states who come here and wish they had something like this festival,” said Alice Kahvejian, who was operating a booth that sold snarky ethnic T-shirts. “Being a second- or third-generation, you could begin to lose language and culture. As you adapt, you have to preserve your language, and stuff like this helps keep it alive.”
Organizers from the Pasadena chapter of the Nor Serount Cultural Assn. said much of the festival was meant to bring people of different ethnicities together.
“We want to introduce ourselves to Americans and other cultures,” said Seta Khodanian, a member of Nor Serount, which translates into “new generation.”
“Our intent is to keep the new generation updated with our culture, but be good Americans and get to know other groups,” she said.
Vredj Sahagian grew up in Iraq and moved from Baghdad to Los Angeles two years ago, he said. A self-described Armenian Iraqi, he said the dancing and songs at Sunday’s festival reminded him of growing up.
“The music takes me back to Baghdad, but everything’s being destroyed by American aggression or terrorism,” he said.
He said he was looking forward to some of the festival’s speakers, something he enjoyed when he attended last year’s event.
“They speak about Armenians, our civilization and the hopes for a better future,” he said.