Around 175 people crowded into Verona Public Library’s community room to observe and celebrate the Chinese New Year on Saturday, Jan. 25.

Attendees ushered in the Year of the Rat, which is one of 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. It is associated with prosperity, wealth, abundance, vitality and fertility. A rat’s high reproductive and survival rates have made it associated with these characteristics.

The Verona Area International School hosts the celebration annually as a way of sharing Chinese culture with the community.

VAIS K-1 teacher Lumei Huang and Middleton Public Library youth assistant and VAIS parent Tiffani Roltgen read a story about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

This was followed by VAIS students and friends performing the song “Xinnian hao ya” (“Happy New Year”).

After the story time and songs, attendees broke out into crafts and activities. Children could create rats either out of paper bags or muffin wrappers.

They could also make a necklace from red string and a Chinese coin, to provide luck throughout the New Year, and practice their Chinese character writing.

— Neal Patten