Pictured left: In 2007, the Port of Seattle moved the statue of Leif Erikson to its current location, Shilshole Marina in Ballard. The statue was first unveiled in 1962 on Norway Day at the Seattle World's Fair. Pictured right: Accordion player Trygve Bjorndal performs Scandinavian songs by the Leif Erikson statue Sunday, June 17, as people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the statue's unveiling at the Seattle World's Fair. CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE ANOTHER PHOTO.
UPDATED: Leif Erikson turns 50
Fifty years ago, Seattle welcomed the statue of Leif Erikson to Shilshole Marina on Norway Day at the Seattle World’s Fair.
On Sunday, the Port and Leif Erikson International Foundation (LEIF) celebrated the statue's 50th anniversary with various events from noon until 3 p.m.
"The statue of Leif Erikson, the first recorded European to set foot on American shores, symbolizes the journey that our immigrant forebearers made to this country. Whether we're Swedish-, Norwegian-, Danish-, Finnish- or Icelandic-Americans, we're descended from courageous, risk-taking people who came to America to find a better future for the generations who would follow," said Kristine Leander, Executive Director of the Swedish Cultural Center and president of the LEIF. "I believe that it still resonates for us today, just as it did 50 years ago."
The public was invited to leave a mark by signing a book and offer comments about the statue, about Shilshole Bay Marina, or the immigrants whose names are inscribed on the runic-like stones around the plaza. LEIF will incorporate the signatures and comments into a book that will be presented to the Nordic Heritage Museum.
"This is chance for the public to leave their mark for future generations in the form of their comments and signatures. Think about your sons and daughters or grandchildren reading what you wrote and saying, 'that was my grandma's signature!' or 'That's what my dad said when he visited the statue',' said Leander. "It's a link to people we don't even know yet. Sometime in the future, people will read what you wrote and feel connected to this sunny day in June when you took the time sign in at the statue and write a few comments."
A similar book of comments from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1903 will also be on display, where you can see who signed in at the Swedish Building 103 years ago.
The Nordic American Voices project from the Nordic Heritage Museum was also be onsite to video tape visitors.
Leander said the anniversary was a "reminder that we are always building for the future and that our efforts to create public art will be around for a long time".
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