2000-09-02 / Front Page

Vikings Land On The Rock

On September 3, 2000, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Keyspan Energy and the Queens Council on the Arts, is putting together an extensive, daylong, bay-to-beach event called Rockaway Viking Sail 2000, to celebrate Leif Ericson’s historic voyage.

October 9, 2000 marks the 1000-year anniversary of the first documented European to set foot in North America. According to the Icelandic sagas, which give detailed descriptions about Leif Ericson’s travels, in the year 1000, Leif landed and wintered in "Vinland" with a party of adventurers from Greenland.

Remains of a Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada were discovered by archaeologist, Helge an Anne Stine Ingstad. The artifacts found were carbon dated to circa 1000.

Leif assembled a crew of 35 and set sail from Greenland to head towards the west where stories of a land had been sighted. He sighted Baffin Island and later landed on the Labrador coast. He went to sea again and sailed further south past Belle Island, landing on the tip of Newfoundland.

According to Christopher Columbus’ own logs, he sailed to Iceland in 1477 to study the Icelandic sagas.

According to Stuart Mirsky, city- wide coordinator of Viking Sail 2000, Rockaway has been chosen as one of only three stops in the voyage of the three to five ships expected to sail. Of particular interest are the two Swedish ships. The Viking Plym is the oldest Viking replica still sailing. Built in 1912, it is hand-carved. The Skilbladner is the largest Viking replica sailing today, and is currently in route via North Atlantic.

Festivities to welcome the Viking ships are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. at Beach 116 street and Beach Channel drive. The festivities will move from bayside to the beachfront during late afternoon hours and will continue until approximately 9 p.m.

Liz Sulik, president elect of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, is the coordinator of the event in Rockaway. "We are planning an exciting and fun family event centered on Viking history and culture, which will also showcase our own magnificent beach and bay," says Sulik.

Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director of the Queens Council on the Arts, has joined to support the Rockaway Chamber to enhance the event by featuring artists, musicians and dancers.

Although the event is centered around Viking history, it will include historic all-American country western entertainment. Among the many performers will be Ridin’ High, a five piece country music band and one of New York’s top bands, whose spectrum of country music spans from bluegrass to cajun and western swing.

Also performing later in the day, at The Beach Club, will be recording artists The Neil Scott Johnson Band. The band plays original country music and was named "Band of the Year," by the New York Country Music association in 1999.

To complete the western theme, an Indian Pow Wow presented by the Cherokee Blackfeet Cultural Circle will be performed from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the beach at 116 street. The Pow Wow will feature various Native American craft stands as well as music and tribal dancing.

The preliminary event schedule will include:

12 p.m.-Viking ship parade in Jamaica Bay.

1:00 p.m.-Welcome festivities, new park dedication.

3:00 p.m.-FDNY colored watershow.

1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.-Music, children’s art projects, crafts, vendors, dance, reenactments, dancing to the live country music of Ridin’ High, presentations, all-American Labor Day picnic and more. Special feature: World-renowned stone sculptor Gabriel Popian’s commemorative rune totem carving and world renowned artist Lucia Popian’s commemorative banner designing and painting.

4:30-8:30 p.m.-Cherokee Blackfeet Cultural Circle of Nations Pow Wow on the beach, dancing to live music of "The Neil Scott Johnson Band" and mini-carnival at The Beach Club.

8:30 p.m.-"Say good-bye to summer 2000" fireworks by Grucci, sponsored by the 100 Precinct Community Council, to be viewed from Rockaway’s boardwalk.

To conclude the celebration of Leif Ericson’s voyage, events are scheduled around the Philadelphia, Pa area. The last scheduled happening is a banquet in observance of Leif Ericson on October 9, 2000 in Philadelphia.

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