Highlands festival has global goal

December 1, 2008

By Kristin Okinaka

The Issaquah Highlands Christmas Festival will not only celebrate the season, but seeks to raise funds for some international causes.

In its fifth year, the annual festival will be produced by Alathia Community Church and Mosaic Seattle Church, along with the Highlands Council and community partners.

“It is certainly still a fun time, but we’re trying to shift the focus to make it more cause-oriented,” said Barry Odem, pastor of Mosaic.

There is no admission fee to the event. However, attendees are encouraged to donate toward purchasing a goat for a family in Africa through World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization, or sending care packages to girls rescued from the sex-slave industry through International Justice Mission, a human rights agency.

“None of the proceeds will stay with the Highlands Council or churches,” Odem said. “All will flow towards those causes. We want to steer people’s attention towards these issues and for people to focus on the needs of others.”

Christy Garrard, event planner at the council, said that every year the event continues to grow and she is excited that organizers are “really opening it up to the greater Seattle area.”

“It’s a very beautiful venue — very home-townie,” she said. “The Village Green Park is lit up. Last year, we had a few flurries. It really gets you in the Christmas spirit.”

A nativity scene in the park will feature live animals and a horse-drawn hayride, where caroling is a must. Local bands will perform a range of music, including jazz and acoustic, according to Paul Dean, pastor of Alathia. Other highlights include getting pictures taken with Santa, storytelling with Mrs. Claus and activities, like ornament and cookie making. You will have to purchase tickets to some activities, another way to generate resources for the causes.

“I am looking forward to the community getting together to celebrate Christmas,” Dean said. “This event will have something for everybody — live music, great refreshments, plenty of things for the kids and an opportunity to make a real difference in peoples’ lives.”

If you go

Highlands Christmas Festival

4-7 p.m. Dec. 7

Blakely Hall/Village Green

2550 N.E. Park Drive

Free, but donations are requested

On the Web

World Vision


International Justice Mission


Kristin Okinaka is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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