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Year of the Dragon magical event enchants community

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Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press

Festival goers were treated to an exhilarating mix of sound, movement, and color at the Lehi Area Schools’ 14th Chinese New Year celebration at Skyridge High School on Saturday. At the annual fundraising event, audiences were treated to traditional Chinese songs and dances at three sold-out performances. Chinese language students from nine different area junior high and high schools, also provided hands-on activities to celebrate Chinese culture.

The Year of the Dragon program started with an energetic traditional Chinese dragon dance. The Aerial Silks acrobats and Bian Lian (face-changing) mask dancers were crowd favorites. A traditional, playful lion dance finished out the program. Chinese language students primarily performed the song and dance numbers. “So much student creativity and input go into the performances in our show,” said event organizer Aaron Andersen. 

“It was beautiful to see the Chinese culture brought to life. You could see how much the students learned to love and appreciate more than just the language. It was awesome that so many community members came to enjoy the event,” said Lehi resident Laci Jorgensen, who brought her kids. Their favorites were the ribbon dancing and the lion dance.

Students provided the manpower for 38 different cultural activities in various school areas and helped with Chinese food concessions in the cafeteria. Skyridge junior Maddie Hansen participated in the event as part of her preparation for a study-abroad experience in Taiwan this summer. She said her favorite was the group fitness dance. “I loved all the fun choreography,” she said.

Event organizer and Skyridge Chinese teacher Aaron Andersen said 3,391 tickets to the event were sold. “Including the silent auction, sponsorships, tickets, concessions, etc., we raised about $45,000 for the 85 Alpine School District students studying abroad in Taiwan this summer,” he said.

“Personally, it’s my most joyful day of the year, seeing current students share their talents and passion for Chinese culture and seeing past students come back to support us. It’s great to see repeat attendees and hear how new attendees are enjoying their first Chinese New Year with us,” added Andersen.

Andersen said younger students catch the vision of older students and become the leaders for future Chinese New Year events. The event provides a way to fund the programs in the schools’ Chinese programs, like the study abroad experience. Hansen, who is planning on going to Taiwan this summer, said, “I’m most excited about all the food I’m going to eat, especially because I’m going to have to order in Chinese, so it will be very different from anything in America,” she said.

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