Norway’s ties to da South Sound are a force to be reckoned with, don’tcha know? By gosh, dere as powerful as da glaciers that carved da valleys over here and da fjords over there.
Thea Foss, Tacoma’s first and most famous female entrepreneur, was a Norsky. Ditto Harold and Thor Tollefson, the legendary mayor and congressman brothers.
Thousands of Oles and Lenas flooded here in the late 1800s after the transcontinental railroad was built. They resettled on our shores after first migrating to the Midwest because, as Tacoma historian Murray Morgan once wrote, they “found life without salt water to be flavorless.”
And nobody knows flavorless like a nation of people who eat dried cod soaked several days in lye and cold water.
The local Sons of Norway made their presence felt – salty old cusses who brought their wives wherever they went so they’d never have to kiss ’em goodbye.
Can we get an “Uff Da!” from the congregation?
Not that we speak their language. Or have a clue about their traditions, such as hiding all brooms on Christmas Eve to keep evil spirits away. And da Schnoz definitely prefers da Chevys over da Fjords.
But we’re smart enough to know that an upcoming visit by the king of Norway and his 15-member posse is a big dang deal.
What’s even bigger is recruiting the king to speak at your college graduation ceremony for the first time in school history, as Pacific Lutheran University announced this week.
The mood on campus must be electric. Listen closely, and you might hear an ancient Viking war cry echoing through the streets of Parkland:
Pinch yourself, Norskies: King Harald V of Norway will speak at PLU’s graduation exercises in May in honor of the university’s quasquicentennial — which, we assume, is the Norwegian word for 125th anniversary.
Hopefully Harald will stick around long enough to see some of the top attractions near the college, such as DreamGirls at Fox’s and Parkland Putters.
PLU has made bold pronouncements in recent years about its commitment to multicultural diversity. Indeed, we can vouch that Swedes, Danes and even Finns are all welcomed with equal affinity.
But the LuteDome’s proud heritage rests squarely on the shoulders of the Norwegian immigrants who founded the place in 1890.
“His Majesty's presence will underscore our deep personal and institutional ties to Norway,” PLU President Thomas W. Krise said in a statement.
“Lutes all around the globe feel honored,” Krise added.
Actually, sir, the whole 253 feels that way, Lutes and non-Lutes alike. Tacoma has had Aalesund, Norway, as a sister city for decades, and yet the reigning Scandinavian royalty around these parts is the King Oscar Hotel.
Also, it’s kind of fun to hear local people say “your majesty” about someone other than Mayor Marilyn Strickland.
Attention UPS and UWT: The bar has been raised, a gauntlet thrown down.
When the University of Puget Sound and University of Washington Tacoma schedule their spring graduation speakers, they should keep this in mind:
An archduke won’t do. Nor a viceroy, a count, a baron or a prince.
At this point even landing a king would be anticlimactic, unless it’s Elvis or Felix.
Don’t settle for anything less than an emperor.
Stop the petal pushing. We’ve suggested a better idea at least twice since 2012.
Stroke of genius.
The championship is a mere four months away, however, so they’d better start slapping the adhesive dimples on the concrete roof real soon.
It’s the longest of longshots, for sure. A hole in one through the clown’s mouth and the windmill.
To this point, we’ve heard nothing. Not even a polite golf course clap.
Perhaps our idea will be forgotten by history — an unrequited show of love from Snores Truly to Tacoma.
Happy Valentine’s Day, you ingrates.