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New ‘Miss Norway’ crowned in Dyker

The Brooklyn Paper
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She’s one striking Viking.

The Norwegian Immigration Association crowned a new Miss Norway of Greater New York at the Norwegian Christian Home in Dyker Heights on March 28.

The winner receives a trip for two to Norway, and she plans on taking her father, who is of Norwegian descent but has never visited the motherland.

“I’m just so honored and blessed I can’t even put it into words,” said winner Lauren Benson of New Jersey. “Winning a trip to Norway was a dream come true — especially to take my dad who’s never been there.”

Benson was one of a dozen finalists who participated in the pageant’s 60th iteration, and her Scandanavian bona fides put her way ahead of the pack, one organizer said.

“She won with resounding support,” said Arlene Rutuelo a competition committee member who also organizes the annual Norwegian Day Parade in Bay Ridge.

Judges selected the winner based on who demonstrated the most enthusiasm for learning more about her Nordic heritage, said Rutuelo, a descendant of Norwegian immigrants who got her Italian surname from her husband.

“It’s not so much how Norwegian they are — we want this person to be an overall representative of Norwegian traditions in New York,” Rutuelo said. “We only require one grandparent that is Scandinavian. It’s how much do you desire to learn about your history and narrative.”

Benson, who is half Irish, told judges how she balances the traditions from two disparate backgrounds. The family eats corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, and on Christmas Day, her father cooks his specialty — chopped eggs with herring in white wine sauce on pumpernickel bread.

“It’s the most delicious thing you could ever imagine — I try to share it with my friends,” Benson said.

Norwegian immigrants started the contest in the 1950s as a way to encourage their kids to keep old-world traditions alive, Rutuelo said. One of the very first winners dropped by to watch this year’s contest, she said.

“We had some of the former Miss Norways there — one from 1954.” Rutuelo said. “She said she felt a little bad being up on stage amongst the young ones, but she did great.”

Benson, a junior at Rutgers, said she is excited to return the Ridge to do her duty during the May Norwegian parade.

“I get to be on a float, which is awesome,” she said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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