Leif Erickson parade showcases Viking pride

EJ Hersom/Staff photographer Donald Young, left, and Bob Houston carry flags Sunday morning in the annual Leif Erickson parade in Durham.

Donald Young, left, and Bob Houston carry flags Sunday morning in the annual Leif Erickson parade in Durham. Photo: EJ Hersom.

The start time is early and the parade route is short, to say the least.

But that didn’t matter to the roughly 30 people who turned out Sunday morning for Durham’s annual Leif Erickson Parade in Maine. Some even came with their Viking gear, including plastic helmets and swords.

For many, the event is a chance to stay connected to and honor their Scandinavian heritage. Roger Berle, a Norwegian-American from Portland, Maine, took part in his first parade Sunday.

“Three years ago I came on the wrong day, so I ended up having a parade of my own,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do this for the last 25 years since I read about it.” He said his grandparents immigrated to America in 1890, and his heritage is something he takes great pride in. “I’ve visited Norway many times and every time I go, I feel I’m home,” he said.

The Leif Erickson parade has gained national attention, mostly because of its unique format and simple beginnings. The parade started in 1977 as a three-man tribute to the famous Viking explorer.

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