75 years later, still celebrating Leif Erikson Day
It won’t be the celebration they had back in 1935, when Seattle’s 6,000-seat Civic Auditorium was the setting for an early Oct. 9 Leif Erikson Day celebrations. But, Leif Erikson Day 2010 will contain many of the same elements.
In fact, the Seattle Civic Auditorium has changed more than the local celebration has. This landmark built in 1928 became the Seattle Opera House in the early 1960s and was then gutted and reconstructed as McCall Hall in 2003.
Leif Erikson Day, on the other hand, still includes a gathering, a dinner, a speaker, Scandinavian music, the governor’s proclamation, and all the Nordic pride the participants can muster.
Washington’s Gov. Clarence Martin issued the state’s first proclamation of Leif Erikson Day and Gov. Chris Gregoire followed 75 years later with a very similar proclamation. Both mentioned Leif Erikson as the first of many Scandinavians who journeyed to America.
Martin’s message reported that local Scandinavians were making plans for a suitable memorial to Leif Erikson, and Gregoire’s brags that the Ballard statue of Leif Erikson has been replicated and given to Norway and Greenland.
The first Leif Erikson speaker back in 1935 was Icelander Bardi G. Skulason, who came from Portland for the talk, This year’s speaker, Icelander Elisabeth Ward, will fly over for the talk.
In 1935, Icelanders, Danes, Norwegians, Swedes and Swede-Finns came together to plan and participate in their party, and this year’s similar planning group invites the public to attend the 2010 event.
In her keynote talk, “Sailing into the Afterlife: The Viking Boat Burial Tradition,” Ward will bring information about the latest archeological research in Iceland, where they are making fascinating discoveries about Viking history.
The cost is $35 for the Oct. 9 Leif Erikson Day celebration, including a 6 p.m. social hour, 7 p.m. smorgasbord dinner, music and the keynote address. The event takes place at Leif Erikson Lodge of the Sons of Norway, located at 2245 N.W. 57th St. Call 206.783.1274 for a reservation or 206.778.1081 for more information.