Sons of Norway Lodge Brooklyn turns 100
BAY RIDGE — The glad rags were on, and the cats and chicks came dolled up to the nines — Norwegian style — as those in attendance were transported back in a time machine to the 1920s to celebrate 100 years of Sons of Norway Lodge Brooklyn, which was officially instituted in November 1923.
The shindig took place on Saturday afternoon at the Bay Ridge Manor.
“It’s hard enough to start an organization — but to keep anything going for 100 years is incredibly impressive,” Victoria Hofmo, a longtime Sons of Norway member, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “And when you talk about Norwegian immigration to this country, it’s pretty significant, as we are the second largest population to come per capita after the Irish.”
Sons of Norway is a fraternal organization principally representing people of Norwegian heritage in the United States and Canada. The organization includes in its mission the promotion and preservation of the heritage and culture of Norway and other Nordic countries, and to provide life insurance and other financial products to its members.
The organization is classified as a non-profit 501 fraternal beneficiary society. And with approximately 60,000 members, Sons of Norway is the largest Norwegian organization outside of Norway.
However, with more than 100 in attendance at the gala, the majority of whom were septuagenarian, it could not be ignored how loudly and clearly it spoke to a changing demographic in the area.
“Many Norwegians have moved out of Bay Ridge, and it seems that younger generations aren’t as into fraternities anymore,” Kimberly Breiland, president of Sons of Norway Lodge Brooklyn, told the Eagle. “It is hard, but it’s certainly not impossible to recruit new, and younger members.”
When asked how to entice younger folk to become members, Lauren Lee, 40, who is a member of Lodge Brooklyn herself, explained that “having more family events based on Norwegian traditions and cultural activities that kids would like — that’s the key to getting younger people. You have to make it appealing for families to bring their kids.”
Lee pointed out that she enjoys having her Norwegian roots and traditions brought to light so that she can celebrate them – and have a community to share them with.
“Norwegians brought so many things to this country, such as maritime, construction trades, and more,” Hofmo added, “and it’s so very important to keep that culture, heritage, and legacy alive for future generations.”
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