The Norwegians are coming
For the 60th anniversary of the Notteroy Skolekorps (School Corps) band from Norway, the students were promised a trip abroad.
The trip was to include a chance to march in an American parade.
After researching places online through the marching.com website, the location was selected - Alexandria, Minnesota and the Vikingland Band Festival.
A couple of weeks ago, Morten Marcus, a parent with two daughters in the band who scopes out places for the band to travel to and who takes care of travel arrangements, visited Alexandria. He described himself as the head of the Jubilee Committee.
He spent some time touring around the Alexandria lakes area with Jennifer Schmidt and LuWanna Johnson from the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. Johnson was recently hired as the new Vikingland Band Festival coordinator.
Marcus explained that after he and others from the Norway band program learned about the Vikingland Band Festival, he contacted Coni McKay from the Chamber who put him in contact with Ken Martinson, who is heavily involved with the Vikingland Band Festival and is the founder of the marching.com website.
"I was delighted," Marcus said with a heavy Norwegian accent.
The marching band from Norway, said Marcus, includes 105 members ranging in age from 10 to 19. It is divided into three groups and the students are recruited from five or six schools around the area or, as Marcus said, "From the island."
The band is an after-school activity, but it is not connected to the school.
"It is parent driven," explained Marcus, adding that the conductor, which would be equivalent to a band director, is employed and so are the teachers who instruct the band students. "They are all paid for their work."
He said the band's style is very distinct.
"We are very rigid. Like a traditional military," said Marcus.
The band won the National Championship of Norway for street marching in both 2007 and 2009, and was the third place winner in 2008 for the street marching category, according to Marcus.
When asked what he thought of Alexandria, Marcus said, "I like it. I like it all. The lakes and the weather are good. People are open-minded and helpful. It's overwhelming."
He also added that he thought people in Norway were maybe, "a little stiff."
Alexandria, Marcus added, is, "what I am looking for!"
Johnson is excited to have the Notteroy Skolekorps band from Norway participate in this year's Vikingland Band Festival, which will take place Sunday, June 27.
"I think it is fabulous exposure for all involved. I think we should just embrace it," she said, adding, "Over the pond and beyond, our hospitality precedes us!"