EDITOR’S NOTE: The remaining Lunar New Year events at Issaquah Highlands as of Jan. 24 have been canceled.
To celebrate Lunar New Year, and accommodate larger crowds than ever, Issaquah Highlands will have five events this year. While two already took place, there’s still a chance to catch the three that are happening this week.
Highlands Council community program manager Lindsey Pinkston said she loves how the celebrations bring people together and celebrate the cultures of their community.
“This is a great chance to celebrate our diversity and all the different cultures that come together to make up the Highlands,” she said.
Anyone is welcome to attend any of the events, being a Highlands resident is not required. Some workshop attendees came from as far as Tacoma or Renton, Pinkston said.
To kick off the festivities as they bring in the Year of the Rat, 2020, the group had a dumpling workshop and a calligraphy workshop last weekend. Next it will have a Lunar New Year community dinner on Jan. 26, then Mahjong Night Jan. 29. The grand finale is the Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 1 on the Plaza.
Pinkston said they have had Chinese New Year and similar events in the past that have been their most popular events of the year. The number of participants has typically exceeded what they can handle. Blakely Hall could not hold everyone.
Not wanting to have to turn people away, they decided to break the big event down into several smaller events so everyone could have several opportunities to celebrate the New Year, Pinkston explained.
The dumpling workshop, a 21-plus event where participants learned how to make dumplings and drank wine, sold out with 50 attendees.
That was the only one of the five events that had a cost, Pinkston said, because they needed supplies. The rest are free and open to all ages.
The calligraphy workshop was put on by artist Allen Chen.
“Both of these events were great for community building and meeting neighbors,” Pinkston said.
The Lunar New Year Community Dinner on Jan. 26 goes from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Blakely Hall. There will be crafts and activities for kids, including lantern making.
Outside, a special Lunar New Year menu will be available for purchase from Auntie’s Family Kitchen Food Truck. Selections include cashew chicken, shrimp shumai, chow mein, fried rice and steamed pork buns.
“It’ll be a nice time for people to come together and share a meal and get to know each other and celebrate the New Year together,” Pinkston said.
Mahjong Night on Jan. 29 takes place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Blakely Hall. The event is recommended for ages 10 and older.
Pinkston said a volunteer with vast experience playing Hong Kong Mahjong will teach anyone who’s curious. Experienced players can come and play, newcomers to the game can learn and receive instruction.
The Lunar New Year Celebration on the Plaza will last just one hour from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Grand Ridge Plaza. Pinkston said they compacted the event because it may be cold and that there is a covered stage. The event is sponsored by Grand Ridge Plaza.
Seattle Shaolin Kungfu Academy members will perform a lion dance, dragon dance and kung fu demonstration specific to the Year of the Rat.
“We’re excited to bring performances to a bigger venue still in the Highlands,” Pinkston said. “We’re very thankful to Grand Ridge Plaza for giving us the space and the resources to have a big crowd to celebrate the New Year.”
“This should be a really fun way to cap off our Lunar New Year celebration,” she said.
She said the dinner is the part she’s personally most excited for.