The Viking Fest and Norwegian Independence Day Parade in Bay Ridge

Wet weekend is no obstacle to Nordic revelry in former Northern European enclave

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Valkyrie: Kimmy Reilly shows off her arm artwork and impressive muscle at the Owls Head Park Viking Fest.
Little Freyja: Lylah Wendroff got into the Scandinavian spirit during the weekend of Nordic festivities in Bay Ridge.
Viking vows: Sarah and Larry Nannery, center, who were getting married on the other side of the park, happened to wander into the festival, and were joined by costumed revelers.
Swingin’ in the rain: The show went on during the Norwegian Independence Day Parade on Sunday despite a downpour.
Ice queen: Beauty pageant winner Miss Lister was just one of the many visitors from Norway who came to Bay Ridge for the weekend of Scandinavian celebrations.
Junior Thor: Anders Johnson came out to the rained-on parade in adorable Nordic fashion.
Northern lights: This pair of girls showed off their finest bunads at the parade.

Gray skies can’t stop the people of the midnight sun!

The annual Viking Fest and the Norwegian Independence Day Parade both thrust onward through wet weather last weekend like a mighty Norse longship against the tide.

At Saturday’s Viking Fest, the Society for Creative Anachronism, which is dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe, revived and re-enacted Viking traditions in Owls Head Park. Members showed off the helmets, battle armor, and sword-swinging that earned the fierce Nordics their place in Valhalla — as well as the collective memories of pillaged peoples. The group also taught awe-struck viewers — many of whom trekked to Bay Ridge from Williamsburg, Park Slope and faraway nations — about the more refined aspects of ancient Scandinavian civilization, such as its sophisticated ship design and stone carving traditions.

“There are two things people think about the Vikings, stupid and violent, and there’s so much more to it than that,” said event organizer Victoria Hofmo, founder of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. “The Viking Fest lets us share our culture with a wider audience.”

The celebration of all things blond, beautiful, and untamed also displayed the Nordic prowess in music. Bands and choirs from Norway performed for the audience — a great throng that Hofmo numbered near 1,000 people.

Those same bands and choirs marched the following day in the Norwegian Independence Day Parade, which recalls the nation’s independence from Sweden in 1814. Marchers forged down Third Avenue Sunday, through the rain, with colors flying and hands waving.

“The Norwegians are really used to bad weather,” said parade committee chairwoman Arlene Rutuelo, owner of the Nordic Deli on Third Avenue between 69th and 70th streets. “We were really amazed how many people came out.”

The weekend of Northern European revelry is part of Hofmo and Rutuelo’s vision of turning Bay Ridge — once a mighty stronghold of Scandinavians — into a great draw for visitors of Nordic blood from across the country and around the planet

“Each year it will grow more and more,” said Rutuelo.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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Mike from Williamsburg says:
I think the Race of the Nordic Gods was rigged.
May 23, 2013, 5:56 am

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