Norwegian royals visit Decorah - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Norwegian royals visit Decorah

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

Luther College in Decorah is turning 150 years old.  To mark the occasion, Luther is celebrating its Norwegian heritage with a visit from the country's king and queen.

Hundreds of students, staff, and people from around the globe gathered for a glimpse of royalty in Decorah Thursday.  Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja were honored by Luther's president for their commitment to keeping a strong bond between their country and the college.

"You have formed a powerful intellectual and emotional link between the U.S. and Norway since the beginning of the Civil War, and you continue to do so as the University of Oslo and Luther College continuously exchange students, ideas, cultures, and traditions," King Harald V said.

After the king's address, hundreds more folks gathered outside just to be a part of this royally historic occasion.

"I went to Norway a couple years ago with my family to see our heritage.  And it's really interesting to see them since I didn't see them when I was there.  So to see them in the U.S. is pretty awesome," said Luther student Hayley Ryan.

As Norwegian flags flew over downtown Decorah in honor of the king and queen's visit, smaller flags were waved at Luther College.  Some folks even paid tribute to the royals by wearing traditional Norwegian clothing.  Many here believe all the international attention will spur a new generation to dig deeper into this culture.

"I want to learn more about Norway now!" said Sara Maronde, Luther student.

"I think that because so many people who live in the Midwest in general and who come to Luther College are Norwegian, it's just so important that they understand where they come from and are able to feel more compassion towards those people," said Luther student Andrea Berkeland.

Luther hopes this royal visit will only help keep its strong Norwegian ties for years to come. 

The king and queen's visit to Iowa is part of a 10-day official trip to the U.S.  Next they'll head to Minnesota and New York.

Thursday's visit marks the 8th time Norwegian royalty has come to the Decorah area, dating all the way back to 1939.  Just in the past 25 years, King Olav V traveled through an ice storm to get there in 1987.  In 1995, King Harald V and Queen Sonja made the trip.  The last visit was in 1999, when Crown Prince Haakon went to Decorah for the city's sesquicentennial celebration.

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