77th Annual Solvang Danish Days Names Birgitte Pedersen and Brenda Knudsen as Grand Marshals

Long-time Danish Days volunteers and Solvang business owners Birgitte Pedersen (left) and Brenda Knudsen have been named Grand Marshals of the 77th Annual Solvang Danish Days.

Brenda Anderson, Chairperson of the 77th annual Solvang Danish Days has announced that two long-time volunteers and Solvang business owners, Birgitte Pedersen (Gerda’s Iron Art Gift Shop) and Brenda Knudsen (Thumbelina Needlework) will jointly preside over the weekend festivities as this year’s Grand Marshals—and lead the main parade on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

Anderson remarked, “The Danish Days Foundation is pleased to honor both Birgitte and Brenda this year for their incredible support behind-the-scenes for decades—from coordinating the raffle ticket sales and soliciting ads for the VELKOMMEN Magazine and so much more, these two dynamic ladies help make Danish Days happen!”

Co-Grand Marshal Brenda Knudsen shares, “I was born and raised in the town of Tulare, California and am a fifth generation Californian. My husband Hans, a native of Denmark, and I married in 1965. We are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren. Our sons are Ted, a software engineer and Tim, in product development and live in the Bay Area. In the fall of 1964, after completing requirements for a secondary teaching credential from Fresno State University, I was hired by Manuel Silva to teach at Santa Ynez Valley High School. Co-Grand Marshal Birgitte Pedersen was one of my students as were many others I see often in Solvang. I left teaching in 1978 to become a full time mom. In 1981, my husband and I purchased Thumbelina Needlework, a business specializing in Danish needlework established in 1964 and now located in the replica of the Hans Christian Andersen Hus on Copenhagen Drive. As a volunteer for Danish Days, I have been distributing raffle tickets to local businesses for over twenty years. The shops and hotels place the tickets on the counter which enables visitors to purchase them; then they are collected and I make certain all are ready for the final drawing in mid-October—a trip for two to Denmark and $1,000 cash. Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley is a beautiful place in which to live and work. I treasure the friends I have in the community and Bethania Lutheran Church. Danish Days is an opportunity to celebrate and share with others our Danish heritage which I have grown to love and appreciate very much.”

Co-Grand Marshal Birgitte Pedersen reveals, “I was born in Denmark in 1948, and my family moved to Canada in 1957, and then on to Solvang in 1961, where we have all been ever since. My Dad, Arne Larsen, was one of the Solvang Greeters along with Aksel Elbeck and volunteered for Danish Days every year since 1962 till his death in 2005. My mother Gerda is turning 90 this fall, and she and my Dad were Grand Marshals in 2003, so I feel honored to be following in their footsteps. I have been married to Steve (Steen) Pedersen for 42 years, we met here in Solvang. We have two children, Kirsten who just presented us with our first grandchild, a beautiful boy named Jeb, and her partner Casey. Our son Matthew lives in Santa Barbara, but comes up to help the Danish Brotherhood during Danish Days, saying that is one of the highlights of his year. I own Gerda’s Iron Art Gift Shop and have been in the retail business for 38 years. Since Danish Days is probably our busiest weekend of the year, I am busy here at my store and don’t have the time to go out and volunteer on those days, so I contribute by helping before the big event. I really don’t remember what year Rose Skytt asked me to help solicit advertising for the VELKOMMEN magazine and about the same time Brenda Knudsen asked me to help distribute Danish Days raffle tickets. I am very honored and feel undeserving being chosen as one of the Marshals, but very happy.”

The non-for-profit charitable Solvang Danish Days Foundation celebrates its 77th Annual Danish Days from Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22, 2013, with the theme of “Best Danish . . . Fill in the Blank!” The three-day event honors the establishment of Solvang by Danish-Americans in 1911 and helps preserve Solvang’s authentic Danish heritage. Admission is free and thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the celebration each year.

To review the most current, complete schedule of ALL events during Danish Days weekend, download parade applications and more, visit www.SolvangDanishDays.org


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