Seventeen years have passed since celebrating my first Danish Days and each year I have looked forward to Danish Days weekend. As a child, I especially loved seeing the Danish dancers in the streets, the endless amounts of aebleskivers, the parades and the Danish Maid. I admired the Danish Maids and marveled on their beautiful dresses. I appreciated the role they played in the Danish Days festivities and hoped to grow up following in their footsteps. Hi, my name is Mia Andersen and I am excited to serve as the 2015 Danish Maid.
Ever since my first Danish Days, at nine months old, the dresses I have worn have been handed down to me from my Mor Mor (my grandmother) or my Tante Donna (my Aunt). I have worn several of the dresses my Tante Donna wore when she was a child and my Mor Mor has also made me dresses between years. She adjusted the dresses to fit my older sister and I as we grew. Growing a little taller before the next Danish Days was always exciting because of the possibility of getting to wear a different dress with a different story behind it.
This year, my dress was custom-made by Roberta Skidmore, who designed my dress from the region of Denmark where my ancestors originated. My great grandparents, John and Thora Roth, came from the small town of Bylderup, near Tonder in Sonderjylland, Denmark. The ribbons that hang from my hat and that are stitched along the bottom of my dress are colors that would accent dresses from this region of Denmark in the late 1800’s. My great-great grandmother Thora Roth crocheted the lace that accents my hat, sleeves, and apron. My blue apron was originally a table cloth, made by great-great grandmother on my Bedstefar’s (my grandfather’s) side, Marta Schmidt Andersen. My Bedstefar’s parents (Grandpa and Grandma “Gi Gi”), would visit Denmark and always return with a gift for my Mor Mor and Bedstefar. They brought this table cloth home after a visit but the tables in Denmark were much smaller than the ones in the United States, so my Mor Mor stored it away, which is why it is in such good condition. Roberta Skidmore altered it into an apron for my dress, making the dress even more special to me.
I am a 5th generation Santa Ynez Valley resident. My great-great grandparents bought a ranch in this valley in 1910 and relocated their family. Their daughter, Anna Roth, married a local builder from Denmark named Christen Valdemar Nielsen. He was known as “C.V.” and he opened Nielsen Building Materials in Solvang in 1932. Today, the business is successfully managed by his grandson and my dad, Ken Andersen.
Both of my great-grandfathers emigrated from Denmark. Christen Valdemar Nielsen in 1914 and Christian Schmidt Andersen in 1928. Both men came to Solvang to work hard for a better life and to live among fellow Danes.
I live in Los Olivos with my parents, Ken and Allie Andersen, and my three siblings. Emma is a sophomore at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Owen is sophomore at Santa Ynez High School, and Nolan is in the 6th grade at Dunn Middle School. My paternal grandparents, Andrew and Thora Mae Andersen live in Solvang and my maternal grandparents, Chuck and Shelia Bosselmann live in Lompoc. It is special for me to have all of my grandparents living close to me.
I am a senior at the Santa Ynez High School. Soon, I will be an alum of the same school as my dad and my Mor Mor. I have enjoyed playing on the volleyball team, and this will be my fourth year on the varsity soccer team. I am involved in Youth and Government and Pirates with Hearts (a school club that volunteers at The Friendship House). This is my 8th year in Lucky Clover 4-H. 4-H has taught me valuable lessons in responsibility, service, and leadership. Last year I was chosen to represent the county in a fundraising drive for new barns at the Santa Barbara County Fair.
Since I was young, I have enjoyed Danish Days as much, if not more, than any holiday. I loved playing and watching the entertainers in the park. The older I grew, the transition from playing the games to running the booths seemed natural. Watching the little kids have so much fun in the park reminds me of all the fun I had with my sister and brothers. When you are old enough to join the volunteer ranks of aebleskiver production, you have made it to the next level. Now I interact with tourist and friends while cooking aebleskivers. I can’t believe we cook over 3,000 breakfasts in two days.
My favorite Danish Days memories are the parades. I have been in every main parade, torchlight parade, and children’s parade since I was 9 months old. Each year my family builds a float that comes alive. It has become our tradition to create something bigger, taller, louder, fancier, and crazier than the year before. My dad and his friend Matt spend many hours building the structure and figuring out how they can push the limits. It is fun to watch them in action, because you never know what is going to happen, or what might break at the start of the parade (ha ha). My Tante Donna, my Mor Mor, and my mom are in charge of the decorations and artwork. My Mor Mor usually comes up with some crazy costumes for us as well. We have been chickens, disco girls, vikings, bakers; you name it. From sliding out of a wooden clog, to jumping on a giant wine barrel, to being soaked by a tipping bottle, we have had a lot of fun.
My Danish Days memories are a big part of my childhood and I always look forward to creating more fun memories. I want to thank my family for emphasizing the importance of our heritage and for always supporting Danish Days. I thank them for showing me, at a very young age,that being involved and working to make something special is always worth the effort. Danish Days is a celebration of my heritage and it brings together our entire community. I want to thank the volunteers for making Danish Days happen year after year. It is truly an incredible event.
I want to invite visitors to Solvang to tap into their inner Dane… whether you are Danish or not… and create memories this Danish Days weekend. I am honored to be selected this year’s Danish Maid. Mange, Mange Tak.