YEREVAN (Asbarez)—The 10th Pan-Homenetmen Games kicked off Saturday with a parade of athletes in the center of the the Armenian capital, setting the stage for the centennial celebrations of the founding of the athletic and scouting organization established in 1918.
Some 1,250 athletes representing 19 Homenetmen chapters from around the world, including Tehran’s Ararat and Nairi organizations, paraded from Liberty Square in Yerevan’s city center to Republic square, led by the Homenetmen marching band. Athletes carried the Armenian tricolor, the flags of Homenetmen and the organization’s Armenia division (commonly known as HASK), as well as the organization’s centennial flag.
Marching in alphabetical order by region, the athletes reached Republic Square, where thousands of spectators had gathered to witness the tenth iteration of the event.
With the singing of the Armenian national anthem and the official Homenetmen anthem, the official opening ceremonies of the 2017 games also kicked off the organization’s centennial celebrations, which will go well into 2018 as regional celebrations mark the momentous occasion of the organization’s establishment.
Attending the opening ceremonies were representatives of the Catholicosates of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and the Great House of Cilicia; Armenia’s Diaspora Minister, Hranush Hakopyan; deputy ministers of youth affairs and defense; the political representative of the Armenian Revolutionary (ARF) Bureau, Armen Rustamian; ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Aghvan Vartanyan; the ambassadors of Lebanon and Egypt; a large delegation of the South Korea’s national scouting troupe; the honorary presidents of the 10th Pan-Homenetmen Games, Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Alice Der-Bedrossian; Homenetmen Central Executive members past and present; and representatives of Homenetmen regional executives.
Following remarks by representatives of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, the chairman of Homenetmen Armenia, Davit Hakopyan, presented welcoming remarks.
They were followed by remarks by the 10th Pan-Homenetmen Games organizing committee chairperson, Manuel Marselian, who is also the chairman of the Homenetmen U.S. Western Regional Executive.
Sarkis Der-Bedrossian, the honorary president of the games, said Homenetmen is that singular organization that does not age, and that it is a unique movement that has educated generations of Armenians about the importance of being Armenian and advancing our national issues.
Also speaking at the ceremony were ARF Bureau member Armen Rustamian, Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakopyan, and chairman of the Homenetmen Central Executive Karnig Mgrdichian.
Before the parade of athletes, the participants gathered in front of the National Opera to become acquainted with the rules of the Pan-Homenetmen Games and to meet with organizers and leaders of the event. The athletes then marched to Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial, where the Pan-Homenetmen torch was lit from the eternal flame at the memorial complex.
The opening ceremonies concluded with an outdoor concert, featuring popular Armenian singers, as well as fireworks that lit up the Yerevan sky.