Leif the Lucky (continued)

Leif’s big day came on September 26, 2007. He was lifted and set in place as smoothly as an experienced pilot lands an airplane. Hundreds of donors were invited to a party to rededicate the statue to the public on Sunday afternoon, October 7. The date was picked to coincide with Leif Erikson Day, traditionally October 9. Port staff and the LEIF board crossed their fingers for good weather.

It was a great community celebration that no attendee will forget: Terje Leiren, chair of the University of Washington’s Scandinavian studies department, was master of ceremonies. Nordic Heritage Museum flew its newly hired executive director, Eric Nelson, from California to Seattle to introduce him. The Hugo Helmer Accordion Band from Mount Vernon played. Port Commissioner Alec Fisken spoke, as did Kristine Leander, President of LEIF, and Jay Haavik, the project’s manager and designer. Icelander Karin Bardarson sang "Song of Leif" and the Norwegian Ladies Chorus sang the song they sang at Leif Erikson’s farm in Greenland. Mark Maleng, son of King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, spoke on "Proud to be Norwegian," and Dale Cummings and an all-Scandinavian choir sang. The only thing not in place was the weather. After a week of sunshine, the heavens opened, the wind blew and rain poured. Leif probably felt right at home.

The new Leif Erikson plaza at Shilshole Bay Marina stands as a monument to the community. At the dedication, about 850 names were on its plaques. Names added in 2010 brought the total to 1,767, and a plaque added in 2014 raised that figure to 2,351. Their years of immigration range from 1844 to 2004. The majority came to the Northwest and the majority of listed names are Norwegian-born, with smaller groups of Danes, Finns, Icelanders and Swedes. LEIF is proud of what its small group accomplished to create a tribute to the community’s Nordic roots, but prouder still of the many immigrants who—like Leif "the Lucky" Erikson—left their homelands in search of opportunity for themselves and the generations to follow. Their hard work is their lasting legacy.

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