2019: Local communities celebrate in new ways
Editor's note: This story is part of the The Times' special series, "Decade in Review." This series features three stories that helped to define each year of the 2010s. These can retell single stories that captivated readers of the time, a saga that played out across many articles, and even stories that were crowded to the margins by other news at the time but have made a lasting impact on our region.
Some years are bad for community festivals in Washington County — think of 2016, when the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta, which is quite possibly the single largest annual event in the county (give or take the county fair), was canceled because of windy conditions.
And some years are great for community festivals in Washington County — like 2019, when Beaverton and Tualatin inaugurated what organizers hope will be beloved new traditions for area residents.
Beaverton Pride began in 2018 as a celebration of the city's LGBTQ community. In 2019, organizers upped the ante by making Pride not just a queer festival, but a half-mile parade along downtown city streets.
The Beaverton Pride Parade, the first of its kind in the city, was held on June 23, 2019, with more than 30 entrants. Allison Jones, an eight-time Paralympic cyclist, was the parade's grand marshal.
The festival itself brought nearly 100 vendors to Beaverton City Park, along with live entertainment, food carts, a beer garden and more.
"The growth has been exponential," said Kate Kristiansen, Pride Beaverton's executive director. "We have a ton of people coming out to support us."
Tualatin also introduced a new community festival that celebrates diversity. However, the focus of ¡Viva Tualatin! is on Tualatin's immigrant communities, including their arts and cuisine.
The Portland area has a well-earned reputation for its lack of racial diversity, relative to most other metropolitan areas of its size in the United States and Canada. But census data shows that Washington County's nonwhite population is growing faster than its white population, leading to a county that is beginning to look at lot more like the rest of the country in its racial makeup, and one that includes increasingly prominent Latin American, Pacific Islander and South Asian minorities.
¡Viva Tualatin! came about as a successor to ArtSplash, a community event that city organizers in Tualatin discontinued after it failed to draw much interest in 2018.
The new festival came about, City Manager Sherilyn Lombos explained, as "a merging of those two things: a 'refresh' of ArtSplash and a festival of culture."
"We wanted to make it all-inclusive for all communities," said Betsy Rodriguez Ruef, whom Tualatin hired in 2018 as the city's community engagement coordinator.
¡Viva Tualatin! brought a decent crowd — a good turnout for a first-year event, Rodriguez Ruef concluded — to Tualatin Community Park on Sept. 14, 2019. Vendors sold art and served traditional foods from India, Mexico, Samoa and many other places. Live music and dance performances entertained attendees.
Organizers are already planning ¡Viva Tualatin! for 2020. It is expected to be held a couple months earlier, on July 20.
Less noticed than the other two new community celebrations, but significant in its own right, was a new addition to Beaverton's holiday event lineup in 2019.
On Dec. 23, 2019, a small crowd gathered at Beaverton City Park for the first public menorah lighting in Beaverton's history.
The Chabad Jewish Center of Hillsboro has been holding a public menorah lighting every year since 2015. In 2019, Chabad agreed to extend that tradition to Beaverton, helping to organize the menorah lighting on the second night of Hanukkah. (The Hillsboro menorah lighting is always held on the first night.)
"This is the very first time in what we hope will become a tradition at the holidays in our beautifully diverse city," said organizer Dana Jolivet.
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