Icelandic Celebration Parade

Here are a couple of Vikings guarding the entrance to the parade marshaling grounds. If the Viking ships had crew like these, they could have conquered whole armies by just sending them ashore and having them say “Follow me.”

Everyone loves a parade and the annual Íslendingadagurinn parade is no exception. It is anticipated all year. It is prepared for all year. This morning at 8:30 a.m. as I walked down Centre Street to the marshaling grounds west of town, the street was already lined on both sides with chairs, in some place, the chairs were two rows deep. The parade doesn´t start until ten a.m. People were gathered in groups visiting or sitting individually reading a book.

There were already children of all ages out and about with viking helmets with horns, the larger and more outrageous the cow horns, the better. No real viking wore a helmet with horns but it doesn´t matter. Gimli vikings do and it looks great. The vikings raised lots of cows and if they‘d have had any sense of style, they‘d have put cow horns on their helmets to terrify their enemies.

Every year I take photographs of the parade. Recently, I looked through my files and realized, the pictures are interchangeable. Here come the redcoats in their redcoats and marching behind them is the band in its kilts. So, I decided that I take a look behind the scenes, at the staging area as everyone was getting ready.

There were, of course, the real thing, the vikings from the viking village.

Unfortunately, I didn´t find a herd of Icelandic horses. I only found one having its main braided. But it was a fine horse.

There was a family reunion getting ready. They had signs and balloons, a float. They took this family reunion seriously. We had a family reunion recently, that is the Bristow side of the family did, but it never occurred to any of us to join the parade. This should become a tradition because the Icelandic Festival is a time of family reunions. It is a gathering of the clans.

The Iseleifsson reunion getting ready to march

There were, of course, utterly cute kids, with their parents getting the last minute details just right.

And here´s a photo where everything is tickety boo. Seeing Kevin and Thora Palson, with Hunter Dankochik and Aleesha Harms all dressed up in traditonal costumes made me wish my wife and I had done the same many years ago. It would have made for great memories. After this photo the four parade participants got up onto the Icelandic National League float.

And this young lady is all set for the parade with her own float.

There´s a lot of last minute detail to look to and Val Bjarnason Hilton is taking care of along with other supporters of Logberg-Heimskingla, the Icelandic newsaper.

And here´s Joan Eyolfson Cadham, the editor of LH with her viking helmet. Her husband made it for her. She used to take it everywhere with her but the airlines are convinced that it could be used as a weapon so when she flies, she now had to leave it behind. Sunna is not yet aware that she has lost her gold broach. Sunna (Pam) has created and developed, along with George Freeman, the Cousin’s Project, connecting Icelanders and North American’s of Icelandic descent. Among many other things.

Even the dogs that walk in the parade need last minute touches to look their best.

There were, of course, all those official folk. The mayor of Reykjavik, the Consul General of Iceland, the Fjallkona, there were expensive convertibles, there were marching bands, the Shriners. They are all needed to make a great parade. But, for me, it’s the intimate moments, the moments backstage, as it were, before people step out before an audience, that tells the story of the time and effort and caring that goes into our parade, this parade, the Icelandic Celebration parade, to make it something that people start setting out chairs for at 8:00 a.m., two hours before the parade begins.