Long-standing tradition continues in NY

Miss Norway of Greater NY enters its 63rd year

Miss Norway of Greater New York

Photo: Norwegian Immigration Association
The reigning Miss Norway, Kristen Johnson (right), and Miss Heritage, Sophie Feldman (left), were crowned at a ceremony last spring. There’s still time for New York-area teens to apply for this year’s contest.

Norwegian Immigration Association
Brooklyn, N.Y.

In 1954, a tradition began among Norwegian Americans living in Brooklyn. This was the inaugural year for the Miss Norway of Greater New York Contest. Most of the contestants were from the thriving and vibrant Norwegian Colony. Miss Shirley Bensen was the first to be honored to wear the Miss Norway crown and represent our community.

Each year’s contest has introduced us to a very dynamic group of young women, each unique and accomplished in her own way yet bound together by love for their Norwegian culture and heritage. When given the opportunity, they have spoken eloquently about the importance of traditions, family values, education, world affairs, and church and civic involvement and how these have had an impact on their young lives. They have always proven to be an extraordinary and diversified group.
Entering into its 63rd year in 2018, the Miss Norway of Greater New York Contest continues to attract the attention of Norwegian Americans in the New York metropolitan area. As part of the festivities, a Little Miss Norway and Junior Cadet parade for children ages 5 to 11 are held to inspire the younger members of the community.

The winner of the Miss Norway title is awarded the grand prize of a round trip airline ticket to Norway, given by the Norwegian Immigration Association (NIA), the organizer of the event. The contest reinforces the NIA’s mission “To document and preserve the rich history of the contributions made by the Norwegian Immigrant Community living in the greater New York area and to make this information readily available to researchers and interested persons through technology, media, exhibits, and education/cultural events.”

Applications for this year’s Miss Norway must be postmarked no later than Feb. 26, 2018. For further information on the contest and the NIA, please visit niahistory.org or email niahistoryonline@yahoo.com.

Journey to my roots

Kristen Johnson
Princeton, N.J.

Kristen Johnson, Miss Norway of Greater New York

Photo courtesy of Kristen Johnson
Kristen and her sister, Kara, enjoy ice cream at Bergen’s Bryggen.

In April of this year, I was crowned Miss Norway of Greater New York and received the opportunity of a lifetime: a trip to Norway. My parents have been to Norway several times, but it was the first time for both me and my sister Kara. Considering I am 100% Norwegian American, I have always wanted to visit the country that influences my identity. From various family members, I have grown up hearing stories and seeing pictures of Norway. I often dreamed of seeing the fjords and experiencing the vibrant city of Oslo. On this trip, I got to do just that!

We began our journey in Oslo where we visited Vigeland Park, Holmenkollen, the Norwegian Resistance Museum, and more. From there, we began our “Norway in a Nutshell” experience. We took a train to Flåm, then a boat to Balestrand, where we stayed overnight.

Balestrand was a quaint town on a fjord. Kara and I satisfied a right of passage in our family by swimming in the frigid water of the fjord. From Balestrand, we took a ferry to Bergen. My family and I enjoyed Bergen immensely. The winding hilly roads of the city were ripe for exploring, and we indulged ourselves at the Fish Market. Bergen’s reputation of gloomy weather failed, and rain did not fall. Most memorable was a late dinner at 10:30 p.m. outside watching the bustle of people enjoying a summer’s night.

For the last leg of the trip, we tackled southern Norway. All of my Norwegian ancestors hail from this part of the country and our stay in Kristiansand did not disappoint. We stayed in Kristiansand while visiting Flekkefjord and Ryen. Flekke­fjord is my paternal grandmother’s hometown. I met my great-uncle and aunt and saw the house my grandmother was born in. Ryen is the town my maternal great-grandmother lived in. We visited the church she attended and saw her family’s house. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to see these towns that are so significant in my family history.
My favorite experience in Norway was enjoying the charming city of Kristiansand. Beautiful weather, friendly people, and fine restaurants created an unforgettable adventure. I enjoyed the ice cream and seafood in Norway also. I would like to thank the Norwegian Immigration Association for this wonderful experience. Tusen takk!

Miss Norway of Greater New York

Photo courtesy of Kristen Johnson
From left to right: Kristen’s great uncle, Ola; sister, Kara; father; herself; great aunt, Mary; and mom in Flekkefjord after meeting for the first time.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American

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