Burbank: Parade date stirs controversy

Burbank Leader , CA
April 3 2004

Parade date stirs controversy

Burbank on Parade organizers set event for April 24, not realizing it
is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

By Jackson Bell, The Leader

BURBANK – After a tumultuous four months that almost led to the
cancellation of Burbank on Parade, organizers have discovered a
planning gaffe that could exclude thousands of residents from the
annual event.

In mid-February, organizers scheduled the parade for April 24, the
same date as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. Many of the city’s
estimated 10,000 Armenian-American residents will not join the
celebration because they will spend the day at homes, churches or
rallies throughout the area, remembering the victims of the 1915
massacre, local Armenian leaders said.

“It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t change the date,” said Razmik
Hovanessian, a Burbank resident and Armenian-American activist. “We
expect our [city] leaders to be smart and wise and avoid coincidences
like this.”

But the parade, which has traditionally been on the last Saturday in
April, cannot be rescheduled this year because of the challenge in
coordinating youth bands, drill teams, equestrian entries and
representatives from local organizations, organizers said.

“All the plans have been made and $25,000 has already been spent,”
Parade Chairwoman Joanne Miller said. “At this point, the parade is
so far in the can that it’s too difficult to switch the date.”

Hovanessian and Miller were among several city officials, parade
organizers and prominent members of the city’s Armenian-American
community who met Thursday evening at Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos’

The outcome, Ramos said, resulted in an end to any future conflicts.

“There are more details that need to be worked out in terms of next
year’s date,” she said. “But there is a firm commitment that this
will never again happen on April 24.”

The trouble started when organizers in December sent a letter to the
city announcing their decision to no longer proceed with the parade,
citing difficulties working with the city’s License and Code
Compliance Division and Parks, Recreation and Community Services

But after the problems were ironed out and the event resumed,
awareness of the sensitive date fell under the radar.

“The next thing we knew, the date was publicized and everything was
planned in a very short time,” Ramos said of the parade, in its 23rd

The meeting, however, helped to clear up something that could be
perceived negatively by the Armenian-American community, said Hoori
Chalian, a resident who is involved with the Armenian National
Committee of Burbank.

“I now understand that this was done with no malice,” Chalian said.
“But it is an unfortunate coincidence, and I appreciate the
opportunity to explain where I’m coming from.”