And the winner is

SECM’s Scandinavian of the Year is “Crazy Bob”

Robert Carlsen “Crazy Bob” and Arlene Bakke Rutuelo.

Photo: Arlene Bakke Rutuelo / Facebook
“Crazy Bob” and Arlene Bakke Rutuelo share a moment at Viking Fest this Syttende Mai.

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Each year the Scandinavian East Coast Museum selects a Scandinavian of the Year and announces the winner at their annual Viking Fest. It is a tradition that the local Councilman, Vincent Gentile, presents a citation. This year was no different.

And the winner is… Robert Carlsen. Bob was born in Brooklyn to parents of Norwegian and Swedish descent. His ancestors hailed from Arendal, Grimstad, Tonsberg, and Grebbestad.

Bob’s life has been rooted in Scandinavian traditions, as a member of the Norwegian Folk Dance Society of New York, Sons of Norway Lodges Garborg and Brooklyn, and the Scandinavian East Coast Museum.

Throughout Bob’s life he has exemplified the best quality inherited from his Scandinavian forebears: a commitment to helping others. For decades he worked for the social betterment of children, as a board member of the Norwegian Children’s Home.

However, he is better known for another talent. Affectionately known as Crazy Bob his greatest gift is bringing laughter and joy to others. Today he serves as the Social Director of both the Scandinavian East Coast Museum and the Danish Athletic Club. He has performed in several shows organized jointly by the SON and Vasa Lodges of Long Island. He played the incomparable Peggy Lee in the SECM’s tribute to this Norwegian-Swedish-American chanteuse and song writer. For about a decade he volunteered to run the popular New Year’s weekends at Land of the Vikings. And of course, he’s the hit of the 17th of May Parade in Brooklyn, making sure in true Scandinavian fashion that his outlandish costumes fit each year’s theme.

On May 16, 2015, friends celebrated the wonderful work and contributions that Robert Carlsen has made, not only to the Scandinavian community in the New York area, but also to so many New Yorkers.

Congratulations Crazy Bob. Keep up the good work—I mean FUN!

This article originally appeared in the May 29, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.