Boston gears up for AYF Olympics
Published: Wednesday June 20, 2012
Boston - Lay out the red carpet. Strike up the band. Get those athletes ready. The AYF Olympics is coming to town August 31 to September 3.
And what an extravaganza this is about to become.
Hard to believe that 11 years have passed since Boston last hosted these games. An infamous year it was, if you recall.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 wrecked havoc with this country, a week after Detroit ruled the 68th annual Olympics with a prodigious display of athleticism. The K-T gang retained its seat on the golden throne by repelling a strong Providence surge, followed by North Andover which captured the Most Improved Chapter trophy.
Two records were broken that year, both by New Jersey's Mike Baskin in the distances. His teammate Chris Kanian received the Ernest Nahigian Sportsmanship Award.
In a city that has brought you the Freedom Trail, baked beans and swan boats, the Greater Boston Siamantos have hung out the welcome mat once more, but with more credibility than in past years.
Count them among the contenders vying for a championship, much like the dynasty of the 1980s. The rolls boast more than 100 juniors and 50 seniors.
"We're very optimistic that the number of athletes is going to be comparable to previous years, if not much more," predicts Tamar Kanarian, one of the organizers. "Membership across the region has shown strong interest. Boston is very excited for this opportunity. All committees and members are putting their best foot forward to make this an unforgettable experience."
The lingering effects of 9/11 continue to haunt people like Kanarian, who was 18 when the tragedy occurred.
"It's always been in our minds and hearts," she says. "We all remember where we were and glued ourselves to the TV sets for weeks. Many of our juniors weren't born yet and some of our seniors were very young."
The years trickle on. A membership surge has beefed up the ranks and provided a bountiful feeder system. With many talented seniors and juniors, Boston could very well be the champion of the future if not the present.
What better time to set the precedent than right in its own back yard in front of the hometown gallery.
The recent dedication of Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway will surely be an attraction, not to exclude the completion of a Big Dig Project and a Boston skyline that would rival Chicago and Manhattan.
And, too, let's also mention the centennial celebration of Boston's Fenway Park if baseball lore entices you.
"We tend to forget how rich our city's history really is," adds Kanarian. "Of all the years, this one is surely attractive to us Bostonians. So many facets have come together to really stamp the Armenian community in the ground."
Through the planning process, organizers have explored different ways to help ensure a seamless event. They'll be using online ticketing to make the dances more efficient, as well as ad book payments.
A steering committee oversees 15 subcommittees, each tasked with different aspects of the weekend. Friday's golf will take place at President's Golf Course in Quincy. Tennis will be at the newly-refurbished Newton North HS, along with swimming and track/field events.
The Alumni Night dance will take place at ACEC in Watertown while the AYF dance is at the Westin Hotel. Entertainment will feature Armenchik and the All-Stars.
Much can be said about the planning and preparation which began two years ago to ensure a successful Olympics. If anything, it embodies the true spirit of an organization that has prospered over the past 75 years.
"Olympics are a very detail-oriented event," adds Kanarian. "It takes an army of people to plan it and goes beyond simply securing venues. You work with vendors, contracts, legalities, personnel and much, much more. Then you reach out to the community and form your working committees. It goes all the way down to dance shifts, T-shirts and hall set-up."
It all translates out to fun and games --- a time of year when the whole slap-happy AYF fraternity comes together in an arena of conviviality. Win, lose or draw, it's been a tradition that has never lost its touch. If anything, it's only gotten better.
"We all love the AYF," adds Kanarian. "It has given so much to us. Sitting in meetings every week, the constant e-mails and communication, anxiety-causing tasks are all worth it. We're all having fun."