2017 AYF Olympics: Thursday at the Olympics


It was a treat to simply load up my car and drive an hour north to Milwaukee and not have to deal with airport lines and chaos. The day was sunny and clear with a crisp hint of fall in the air. The golfers and tennis players know the beauty of going in on Thursday very well. As most folks arrive on Friday, the check-in on Thursday is a breeze and the hotel lobby atmosphere is relaxed. The host committee members were all there working the welcoming desk, and the hotel staff were everything one would expect from a Hyatt.

(L to R) Alidz Khaligian, Vache Mikaelian, Deana Griffiths, Tereza Yerimyan (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It was a gorgeous day to walk around Milwaukee. People who had never been here were commenting on just how lovely the city is. They were surprised that this Midwest city had such old architecture, almost having an East Coast feel to it.

Alexan and Ken Topalian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

I walked in the lobby and the first people I saw were Rich and Nora Sarajian. They were about to head out to a Brewer’s game against the Nationals. How did they get tickets, I wondered? They had an extra ticket and invited me along. I had other obligations, however… like taking photos and writing this little piece.

Ara and Margo Dinkjian checking in (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It was great seeing Peter Jelalian and catching up with him a bit. Karen Kehetian had flown from Los Angeles to St. Louis and then driven up with her sister Janet and niece Melanie Haroian. It was great to see the Khaligian family, especially Areknaz, who is spending a year working in Armenia. She was not about to miss an Olympics, though, especially one hosted by her own Racine chapter. Ara and Margo Dinkijan were there, as were the Steve Hagopian family. Later in the evening, the Kzirian brothers and families arrived.

The Hagopians (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

Steve Mesrobian and Tereza Yerimyan, both representing the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), were at the welcoming table getting people to sign up for their innovative ANCA Rapid Responder Program. Inquire about it by emailing them at anca@anca.org.

Steve Mesrobian and Tereza Yerimyan of the ANCA (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

It was great to get the Olympics Ad Book so early. The committee of Nicole Dadian, Silva Karapetian, Holly Khaligian, Denise Lansing, and Sosi Mikaelian did an awesome job. I got one of my ads in just at the deadline, and apologized in my email for being right at the deadline but feeling kind of cool being the last ad. I was informed last night that I was not even close to being the last ad. I will have to work harder next year…

Baron Pete at the welcoming desk (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

I spent the larger part of the evening chatting with Ken Topalian, Alexan Topalian, and Michael Kazarian. Ken told us that the AYF Olympic Games were the oldest and longest running ethnic athletic games in the U.S. He also said that we are grandfathered in to be able to call our games the Olympics.

Karen Kehetian and Melanie Haroian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

The Thursday evening gathering was at a great bar and restaurant, the Ale Asylum Riverhouse, on the Milwaukee River. The AYFers took over the place, and it was a great, relaxing, and a lot of fun.

Brothers Khaligian (Photo: Mark Gavoor)

Looking forward to the golf and tennis on Friday!

At the Ale Asylum (Photo: Mark Gavoor)
Mark Gavoor
Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

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