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How Armenian Vardavar became topic for Disney? Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan on Mickey Mouse Funhouse's recent episode, her inspirations

12:05, March 16

By Syune Arakelyan

Armenian Vardavar, khorovats, and traditional dresses on Disney's Mickey Mouse Funhouse’s recent episode. The animated story premiered on March 1 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, becoming a source of fascination by a lot of Armenians, who keep sharing their excitement on the episode till now.

The author of the screening, Kathleen Sarnelli Kapukchyan, knew she wanted to write an Armenian story especially after her visit to Armenia in 2018 where her husband (Manvel Kapukchyan) proposed to her, she says toNEWS.am STYLE.

"The people, the food, and the architecture were absolutely fascinating. One day at Verdugo park in Glendale Ca, I saw young and old people splashing water and having a fun time. I asked my husband what that holiday was and he told me it was Vardavar! When I became a Staff Writer while pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted to have his culture represented and I knew that Vardavar was the perfect holiday to showcase on Mickey Mouse Funhouse!"

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In the series, Mickey and his friends visit different cultures and celebrate different holidays, so Kathleen thought—why not Vardavar?

"What really impressed me about this holiday is that it is uniquely Armenian. I have never seen a holiday where young and old people come together and have lots of fun splashing water on each other," she says.

The episode has received a lot of positive feedback from Armenians all over the world—but not only Armenians. The writer believes all the kids have enjoyed it no matter their nationalities because the animated cartoon is all about introducing different cultures and traditions. "Part of what makes Mickey Mouse Funhouse great is that we showcase a variety of traditions and get to introduce young children to new and exciting holidays! Vardavar was the perfect holiday to showcase the fun and happiness of the Armenian people."

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Next to Goddess Astghik (Armenian goddess of fertility and love), taraz (Armenian national dress), and khorovats (barbeque), we can see also in the episode the Temple of Garni, which is a special place for Kathleen because it was there where her husband proposed to her in 2018.  "What was near and dear to my heart was Astghik wearing a traditional Armenian taraz! I love how our team showcased this beautiful garment. This garment was special because whenever I saw traditional Armenian women dance they wore a beautiful taraz. Khorovats is also at almost every Armenian event so I thought it would be fun to include it!" recalls the writer.

The TV series has premiered in 2021, and has become such a success that it required to be continued with second and third seasons. Kathleen thinks what makes the animated series special is the support from the team. "Phil Weinstein (Executive Producer), Thomas Hart (Co- Executive Producer) and Mark Drop (Story Editor) were always encouraging in allowing us to showcase new holidays and ideas.  Mickey and the gang are known around the world for their kindness and openness to embracing everyone and that is what I think makes our show so successful!"

Kathleen says she chooses the stories based off of experiences and lessons she has learned in life as a little girl. "I also like to introduce kids to new cultures that they have never experienced before such as Vardavar and even a Día de los Muertos episode. It’s always fun to write about new cultures and I get to learn details I never knew! Learning about Astghik was so exciting and I really wanted to share her story," she adds.

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