Vikings invade Bay Ridge!

En guarde!: Two gladiators duke it out in a demonstration of medieval arms and armor. The swords are covered in foam to prevent any flesh wounds — or worse.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

They took Bay Ridge by storm.

Norsemen invaded Owl’s Head Park during the annual Viking Fest on May 16, bringing Nordic art, weapons demonstrations, and a giant Viking ship to the Ridge. And this year, the 15th-annual celebration of medieval Scandinavian explorers took on a special theme, one organizer said.

“We dedicated it to the end of World War II and Norwegian war sailors and merchant marines,” said Victoria Hofmo of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. “I really respect those guys and thought they should be honored. They lost half their fleet — nearly 4,000 men.”

Re-enactors from three historical societies taught folks about medieval daily life, arts and crafts, and arms and armor — which was a crowd favorite, Hofmo said.

“Kids were trying on the armor and helmets,” she said.

Folks also got to try their hand at spinning yarn, jewelry-making, and calligraphy.

These days, kids don’t even learn cursive in school, but folks who tried their hand at calligraphy showed a definite flair for the artistic lettering, one re-enactor said.

“There were some really good ones — I could tell some of them did it before,” said Eugena Pechenaya, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and a classified sales manager at this paper.

The yearly festival celebrates Bay Ridge and Brooklyn’s Nordic heritage. Norwegians once dominated the borough’s waterfront neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Sunset Park, Hofmo said.

And of course, there were Swedish Meatballs — both the Nordic delicacy, and the guitar-and-accordion musical duo.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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