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Ride of the Valkyries! Scandinavians seize Ridge over weekend • Brooklyn Paper

Ride of the Valkyries! Scandinavians seize Ridge over weekend

Family tradition: Robert Hanson and his son Ross showed their Nordic pride at the parade on May 18.
Photo by Steve Schnibbe

This ain’t the History Channel, folks!

Vikings marauded through Bay Ridge over the weekend, first striking in Owl’s Head Park on March 17, and the following day along Third Avenue.

The invasion’s planners hailed the two-day raid as a massive success.

“I thought it was outstanding. I don’t think we’ve had this size turnout in many years,” said Arlene Rutuelo, chairwoman of the 17th of May Parade committee, which this year marked the 200th Anniversary of Norwegian independence.

Hundreds first poured into the park at 68th Street and Colonial Road for historically accurate re-enactments of ancient Nordic life — including a folk band from Norway and no shortage of swordplay. Then on Sunday, thousands lined Third Avenue to cheer on rolling longships and marching bands.

Invaders journeyed from far and wide to reach the Ridge, with some who voyaging from South Carolina, North Dakota, and even Norway itself to take part in the revelry of conquest.

“Every year we try to keep Bay Ridge a destination, with Viking Fest and with the parade,” said Rutuelo.

The two-pronged attack was also an opportunity for Scandinavians to introduce Brooklyn to their traditions — which have roots in the borough stretching back to the 1890s, when thousands of Scandinavians emigrated into Sunset Park. Many of those Norwegians moved up to Bay Ridge by the mid-20th Century.

“It’s an important event because we get to celebrate and educate about our culture,” said Viking Fest organizer Victoria Hofmo. “We get to talk about the Vikings in a different way. It’s not just about raping and pillaging.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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