Lantern Festival lights up Chinese New Year

PORT TOWNSEND — Stars wheeled overhead in the cold night sky, candles glowed in a spiral of light and lanterns shone like the planets.

Once again, Port Townsend marked another cycle of the sun with an ancient Asian tradition, the Lantern Festival.

“We’re saying goodbye to the Year of the Rooster, and are welcoming in the Year of the Dog,” said Thaddeus Jurczynski.

Modeled after New Year celebrations in China, this is the third Lantern Festival that Jurczynski has organized in Port Townsend.

This year, cold temperatures made the grass slick underfoot, but several hundred people came downtown to the festival, which started at dusk Saturday.

They included Doug and Megan Mason of Port Townsend, who brought handmade lanterns to walk a labyrinth marked with 200 luminarias.

But the candles weren’t putting out much heat.

“We’ve walked it several times and are completely frozen,” Doug Mason said.

Performance troupe

Things warmed up as a local performance troupe called Circus Saturnalia — Corvus Woolf, Rob Goldstein, Ben Renzendes and Nathaniel Pierson — took the field to perform their impressive repertoire of fire-spinning and fire-blowing tricks.

Then the Cirque de Flambe from Seattle performed a variety of fire and pyrotechnic feats.

The Fremont Philharmonic, a small band of musicians, provided accompaniment for the fire performances.

At the close, Chris Huson, in a rooster outfit, strutted around the field, then was chased away by the dog, representing the Year of the Dog.

In the middle of the field, people carrying lanterns walked a labyrinth laid out by Johanna Rienstra.

Libby Urner, with her two children, Isaac and Rachel, brought a camping lantern plus two paper lanterns Urner made, one with a design representing spring, the other summer.

“They’re two of the four seasons,” Urner said.

“I’ll do the other two when I get around to it.”

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