26 Celebrations and Pastimes

Competencies: Social Studies, Civics

Civics 1.1.1: Understands the key ideals of unity and diversity.

Civics 1.1.2: Understands and applies the key ideals of unity and diversity within the context of the community.

CBA: Meeting Needs and Wants.


Objective: Students compare the various celebrations and pastimes Issaquah has honored over the years.

Materials: mounted photos that depict various pastimes and celebrations (see recommended list attached), laminated business card and booking sheet for Alexander’s beach, optional slide show titled “Play” (colored yellow on top of the slides)


  1. Discuss what students like to do for fun.  What holidays do they celebrate? What traditions do they have?  Once students have brainstormed a wide variety of celebrations, record on the board those celebrations that are shared with their local community, such as Salmon Days, Fourth of July fireworks, neighborhood Christmas lights, etc.
  2. Optional: Watch the slide show of “Play.”  These slides are marked yellow marker on the top of the slides.
  3. Share the mounted photos of Issaquah pastimes and celebrations.  Ask students if they have experienced any of these activities here in Issaquah or elsewhere.  Ask students which of these activities they would like to have attended, and which activities they wish were still a part of Issaquah’s current celebrations.
  4. Discuss how the “most important,” or “best attended” celebrations have changed over the years.  Discuss why the focus has changed (see background notes below).
  5. Pass the laminated cards for Alexander’s Beach around the class.  Let students guess what these artifacts can tell us about what people in Issaquah use to do for entertainment.  Do students do any of the same activities today on Lake Sammamish (picnic, swim, boat launch, camping)?
  6. Have students draw a picture of their favorite Issaquah pastime or celebration.  Students can make a collage of their pictures and put them on display.

Background: Celebrations

Issaquah has celebrated three major events in the past; the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Salmon Days.   In the 1920’s and possibly earlier, rodeos were held on both Labor Day and on the Fourth of July.  The rodeos hosted events such as calf roping and bucking broncos, chariot races, relays, and dances.   There were also holiday horse races down the middle of Front Street, between the Grange Mercantile building and Mill Street (now Sunset Way).  In the 1930’s Labor Day was the biggest community celebration.  This lasted until the late 1960’s (although not during World War II).  Eventually, the organizers lost their enthusiasm and energy to host such grand events on Labor Day.

In 1970, the Salmon Days Festival began.  This celebration was created to celebrate community spirit, bring attention, people, and interest to Issaquah, and raise funds for the Chamber of Commerce.  People were already coming to Issaquah Creek to watch the return of the salmon, so the event was timed with the annual salmon spawning.  In 1970, there were 75 booths and 2,500 visitors. By 1999 the Salmon Days Festival had 420 booths and an estimated 250,000 visitors.

Alexander’s Beach Resort was located on the banks of Lake Sammamish, across from today’s 43rd Street (near where Providence Point is located). Thomas was the “walking boss” for the railroad.  He traveled where the rail was being laid and supervised the construction. Caroline ran a boarding house in Issaquah.  In 1902, they purchased 160 acres and built their house on the banks of Lake Sammamish.  The family ran a resort from 1917 to the 1980’s.  The home was moved by the historical society into Issaquah for use as a Visitor’s Center in the early 1980’s. Many Issaquah residents have fond memories of summers spent at Alexander’s Beach resort.


Read memories about celebrations and pastimes from Preserving the Stories of Issaquah.

Community Celebrations, pages 30-32
Outdoor Recreation, pages 33-35


Activity 26 (DOC)
Activity 26 (PDF)

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