Danish visitor helps kick off 50th Danish Festival in Greenville

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:44 am on Friday, August 15, 2014

Greenville Mayor John Hoppough, right, leads Nels Hansen and a chorus of singers in a rendition of the Danish National Anthem at the festival’s opening ceremony Thursday evening in Heritage Park. About 100 well-wishers turned out to watch the festivities get underway. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

GREENVILLE — Danish Festival 2014 got off to a good start Thursday evening at Heritage Park with the traditional opening ceremonies. The event featured The Danish Festival Band, many local dignitaries, the Danish Festival Queen and Court and even a representative from Greenville’s Danish sister city, Skælskør.

Mayor John Hoppough got the event rolling by welcoming the 100 or so in attendance and introducing many of the volunteers who helped make the festival a reality through months of hard work and dedication.

Jonna Easterby, who travelled from Skælskør, Denmark, to attend this year’s celebration, brought greetings from Greenville’s Danish friendship city. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

Hoppough joined in with Nels Hansen and friends in singing the Danish National Anthem. He then introduced Jonna Easterby, who travelled all the way from Skælskør, Denmark to attend this year’s celebration.

Easterby said she was “amazed” when she first heard of Greenville’s Danish Festival and determined that she would visit here and witness it first-hand with her husband and children.

“I come from the county of Skælskør, which is Greenville’s friendship city,” Easterby said. “I thought it is incredible that somewhere in America, there is still a celebration of the Danish tradition.”

Before leaving for America, Easterby consulted with some former mayors of her Danish hometown, who put together a message to the people of Greenville. She read this letter to the gathering.

“It is good to know that people thousands of miles away still enjoy the same traditions we do,” she read. “Though we no longer do so much folk dancing as much as it was hundreds of years ago. We hope that many of you will come to Skælskør in the future.”

Miss Danish Festival 2014 Lauren Walsh delivered a stirring rendition of “God Bless America” at the festival’s opening ceremony. — Daily News/Mike Taylor

Danish Fest Grand Marshals Roger and Linda Coles also had a chance to address the crowd. Roger Coles made note of the fact that this year’s festival is particularly important since it represents the 50th anniversary of the event.

“It is safe to say that Linda and I are extremely honored and deeply humbled to serve as grand marshals for this, the 50th anniversary,” Cole said. “Thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors who continually give of their time and talent to make this festival happen. They work year ’round to make this festival succeed. Tak, tak, tak; that’s thank you, thank you, thank you.

“Thanks for your participation. Enjoy the weekend and our Danish heritage and our 50th anniversary.”

Other event highlights included Danish Queen Lauren Walsh, who sang an acappella rendition of “God Bless America” and State Senator Judy Emmons and State Representative Rick Outman presented Hoppough with a plaque noting the Danish Festival’s 50th anniversary.

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