GREENVILLE — A festival more than a half century in the making continues to go strong.
The 52nd annual Danish Festival got underway per tradition with the raising of the flags — Michigan, United States and Danish — at Heritage Park next to Greenville City Hall.
“About 52 years ago, some of us were here, and many of you will be here for the 100th annual festival,” said Mayor John Hoppough in a nod to those of all ages in attendance. “The best is yet to come.”
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited in Danish by Janet Wulf-Marvin, followed by a clear and powerful rendition of “God Bless the USA” by Danish Festival Queen Allison Harrison.
Harrison gave a shout out to Wulf-Marvin, who was Harrison’s fourth grade teacher back in the day … just one of the many examples of the closely knit community of Greenville.
Danish Festival Board President Sarah Prekel Bailey took a moment to thank festival committee volunteers and directors, all of whom work year round to make the event a success.
“It has been another great year and I am proud to work with such great volunteers,” she said.
Bailey then introduced the grand marshals of this year’s festival, Greenville sisters Marvel Linnan and Ruth Reed.
“These sisters put the Dane in Danish and they are just the sweetest ladies,” Bailey said.
The sisters are both involved in activities that keep them close to their Danish roots, including the Danish Sisterhood Society and the Red Hat Society.
“It is such a blessing and an honor to be standing here with you all celebrating the Danish Festival,” Reed said. “Thanks to our grandma … who at the age of 17 came to America and met (her future husband).”
“It is an honor for us to be your grand marshals this year,” Linnan added. “There are lots of activities scheduled for us to enjoy. My friends, enjoy the festival this weekend.”
Hoppough closed the opening ceremony by encouraging everyone to “enjoy being a Dane for a day, or two, or three.”
The Danish Festival will continue today with multiple events, including a traveling exhibition from the Museum of Danish America in Iowa from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Danish Cultural Center of Greenville, the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Parade at 6 p.m. at Cass and Barry streets, the Princess and the Pea bed race at 6:30 p.m. at Cass and Barry streets, the firemen’s parade at 8:30 p.m. starting at Greenville High School and the Tivoli Beer Gardens from 3 p.m. to midnight at 116 E. Cass St. across from the Greenville Post Office.