Danish Mardi Gras another great time in Bay Ridge

It was fun and festivity as the Scandinavian East Coast Museum (SECM) hosted its annual Fastelavn celebration.

The event, known locally as Danish Mardi Gras, was held on Sat., Feb. 20 at Vesuvio’s Restaurant, 7305 Third Ave., where attendees dressed in costume decorated spring branches and enjoyed games, food, traditional music and more.

President of SECM Victoria Hofmo was happy with this year’s iteration

“We had a really wonderful time,” she said. “Some kids came and we had games and other activities for them. We tried to think of some new games that relate to cats because cats are part of [the tradition]. We did some stuff with yarn and we had kids do cat races, where they had different cat names like Felix the Cat.”

Also in keeping with tradition, special cream buns were served for dessert. Music was provided by Ellen Lindstrom, aka the Swedish Meatball, who played her accordion.

“A lot of people came in costume which we were really happy about,” Hofmo said. “Two were dressed as Hansel and Gretel. I was dressed like Cleopatra. We have a bag of costumes, wigs and hats and everyone puts them on when the music starts. We had a great time with that.”

Most of the attendees were from the neighborhood, though some, said Hofmo, “weren’t Scandinavian at all,” adding it was good to teach others about the special tradition. “It’s great to teach the kids about it.”

In fact, added Hofmo, she hadn’t known too much about Fastelavn till a trip to Norway 10 or 12 years ago.

It’s important, stressed Hofmo, to keep these events going strong in Bay Ridge.

“Someone told me, ‘It’s really good you do this to keep this culture alive.,’” she told this paper. “For me, it’s not just about doing it for us. It’s about sharing it with a larger group.”

Hofmo also enjoys providing historical background to enhance her events.

“We at the museum aren’t just doing this event,” she explained. “We are hopefully doing a combination of things to show what [Scandinavians] have contributed. We try to share the culture with a larger audience and try to do fun things. That’s the whole idea.”

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