Walking into the Armenian Community Centre on the edge of Scarborough on any given day, you’re likely to see the atrium buzzing with meetings, fundraisers, young scouts marching about, and people having a relaxing chat over coffee at the cafe in the centre of it all.
But walk in nowadays and you’ll see a table advertising the annual New Year’s party.
And this, organizers say, is not like other New Year’s parties.
“We bring all the people together as a family, to spend time together, to get to know each other better,” head organizer Koko Masrelian said. “Instead of going out (to other venues), you feel more safe. When all those things happen (at parties), like drinking, we can help each other and that’s why we feel more safe, like spending (New Year’s Eve) at home.”
Located at 45 Hallcrown Pl. on the North York side of Victoria Park Avenue, the Armenian Community Centre serves as a hub for Armenians all over the Greater Toronto Area.
The party has been a staple in the Armenian community in Scarborough and beyond for about 20 years, Masrelian said.
Every year, a new group of about six or seven people are selected for the planning committee. Starting months in advance of the big day, the volunteers meet weekly and designate tasks amongst themselves.
“We all spend time together and we have fun,” said Kevork Tikjian, a member of this year’s planning committee. “It’s important because we Armenians are everywhere now (referring to the diaspora), so we don’t want to be more separated. We like to keep the community all together.”
Tikjian was in charge of finding the singers for this year’s event, which, he said, could make or break the night.
“I like to help my community,” Tikjian said. “If they ask me, ‘Can you do this with us?’ I’m going to say: ‘Yes. For sure, if I have time.’
“We like to help each other. We’re a very small community, but we’d like to make it bigger.”
The event is set to feature both an Armenian DJ and singer, each based in Toronto, and a Greek singer flying in from Israel, Masrelian and Tikjian said.
“By the second week of December, I think we should be sold out,” Masrelian said, adding the committee is estimating it will sell about 500 tickets.
Many of those will be snapped up by people living in Scarborough, Tikjian said, but word of the party spreads and Armenians come from as far as Cambridge.
Although the event is happening at the Armenian Community Centre with a predominantly Armenian crowd, everyone is welcome, Masrelian said.
“Our door is open to everybody, whether you’re Armenian or not,” Masrelian said.
With the clock counting down to Dec. 31, anticipation is growing for the committee members, Tikjian said.
“We’re going to have lots of fun, I know that,” he said.