POTOMAC, Md. — More than 350 community members gathered here at the Bolger Center Franklin Hall to celebrate the New Year’s Eve and welcome 2016 during the first event organized by newly formed Armenian Community Events Planners of Greater Washington (ACEP).
After the Armenian Genocide Centennial events in Washington, DC in May 2015, the banquet committee members of both Soorp Khatch and St. Mary Armenian Churches came together to continue the unity work they have started one and half years ago. After confirmation from Parish Councils and the Parish priests of both churches, ACEP was formed and decided to have its first major activity the New Year’s Eve Gala celebration.
An atmosphere of fraternity, unity, fun and celebration dominated the hall from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. New Year’s Day, with delicious food, open bar and Armenian music. The committee had invited the popular singer Hovhannes Shahbazyan (Hovo) from Armenia, now residing in California, and his four member band to entertain and sing Armenian songs cherished by all. Families, couples, young and seniors, children and even babies were all on the dance floor throughout the night and the morning, welcoming the New Year, together like one family.
On behalf of the pastors of Sourp Khatch and St. Mary churches, Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan thanked the audience for the unity atmosphere created and congratulated the committee members for their sold out premier activity.
One of the highlights of the Gala was the raffle draw at 1 a.m., New Year Day 2016. Among many donated prizes, one was the most cherished prize that all wanted to win. A two airline tickets from Washington to Yerevan, donated by Garbo Afarian, a travel agent by profession. When the winning number was drawn by 8-year-old Simon Soghomonian and announced by Teny Abrahamian, total silence ruled the hall for few seconds, when everybody was checking their numbers. Suddenly another 10-year-old, Sebouh Kassardjian, ran from his parents table to the podium, a raffle ticket in his hand and shouting “We are going to Armenia, we are going to Armenia.”
Dr. Zareh Soghomonian, senior engineer at the US Navy, provided, installed and monitored throughout the night the sound system for the band. The committee members thank him for his invaluable donated service.