Monday, October 12, 2009

Leif Erikson Day in New Hampshire

This story was posted today by WMUR, Channel 9, and I just HAD to pass it on....

Dozens March In 33rd Annual Leif Erickson ParadeMarchers Wear Scandinavian Sweaters, Viking Outfits Converge

DURHAM, N.H. -- Dozens of marchers clad in Scandinavian sweaters and Viking outfits gathered in downtown Durham, N.H., on Sunday for the 33rd annual Leif Erickson Celebration Parade.
A University of New Hampshire professor and two friends got the idea for the parade in 1977 while washing clothes at a Laundromat. They turned the laundromat into the parade's starting point, and decided to march 25 feet to a nearby restaurant.
This year's parade started at 6:30 a.m.
Erickson is thought to have been the first European to land in North America more than 1,000 years ago. Parade organizers told Foster's Daily Democrat they don't want to elevate Erickson above other explorers but feel each explorer should get an hour of praise.


Also reported in Foster's Daily Democrat

Leif Erickson parade showcases Viking prideBy Aaron
Monday, October 12, 2009

DURHAM — The start time is early and the parade route is short, to say the least.

But that didn't matter to the roughly 30 people who turned out Sunday morning for the town's annual Leif Erickson Parade. Some even came with their Viking gear, including plastic helmets and swords.

For many, the event is a chance to stay connected to and honor their Scandinavian heritage. Roger Berle, a Norwegian-American from Portland, Maine, took part in his first parade Sunday.

"Three years ago I came on the wrong day, so I ended up having a parade of my own," he said. "I've wanted to do this for the last 25 years since I read about it."

He said his grandparents immigrated to America in 1890, and his heritage is something he takes great pride in.

"I've visited Norway many times and every time I go, I feel I'm home," he said.

The Leif Erickson parade has gained national attention, mostly because of its unique format and simple beginnings.

The parade started in 1977 as a three-man tribute to the famous Viking explorer. Noble K. Peterson, a former University of New Hampshire professor, and two friends of Scandinavian descent were washing clothes at the Durham Laundercenter one morning when they decided to march next door to Young's Restaurant to celebrate the famous explorer.

Since then, many have gathered at the laundromat, located on Main Street, at 6 a.m. on the Sunday before Columbus Day to take the 25-foot march to Young's Restaurant while chanting "For noble deeds and daring done, we all salute Leif Erickson. Hoorah! Hoorah! Hoorah!"

"It's organized foolishness, but it's fun," said Hampton resident Bill Anderson.

He was participating in his second parade and took part as a way to recognize his Swedish and Norwegian heritage. He said he was the first Anderson in his family to be born in America. Before coming to America, Anderson's family was the Anderssons.

"But that got Americanized to one 's,'" he said.

The same happened with his mother's family — the Asbjornsens — which was changed to Osborne because no one could pronounce it, according to Anderson.

Ken Andersen of Durham has participated in the parade more than 20 times, but Sunday was the first time his son Dave joined him. Andersen said he lived in Denmark before coming to America years ago.

"We have strong ties to Denmark," he said. "I spoke Danish before I spoke English."

Dave said he has always heard his father talk about the parade but lives in Boston and never had a chance to check it out for himself. He was visiting this weekend and decided to finally try it.

"It's such a big part of my heritage," he said. "Plus, I'm looking forward to having breakfast after."

Marion Farrell came from Ossining, N.Y., to take part. She said her ancestors are both Scottish and Norwegian.

Farrell first found out about the parade from her husband, who took part in it once. Once he died, she decided to continue what he started by taking part."It's just a tradition now," she said. "It's a lot of fun."

Peter Andersen of Durham served as this year's parade marshal and said he's pleased people keep coming to participate. Before the parade started he urged the participants to chant loudly, so they could wake up some of the college students who live on Main Street."

For those of you who have been disturbed by the students in the past, now is the morning and hour to get even," he joked.After the march was done and the group settled into Young's Restaurant, he read a proclamation from Gov. John Lynch.

Leif Erickson Day is observed nationally on Oct. 9.

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