Thursday, November 25, 2004

November 2004

From the President’s Desk

Thanksgiving was a blast and wishing you a peaceful Christmas…

I’m writing this the day after we put up the Icelandic Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry. We all did a really good job even though Lena and I messed up! You see, we came late and forgot one of the boxes at home… Oh well, everyone was very patient about it and we ended up having fun decorating one of the most beautiful tree at the Christmas Around the World exhibition. I’m sure you agree if you have a change to take a look at it this holiday season and I promise it’ll get you into the Christmas spirit.

As you can see elsewhere in the newsletter we have elected a new board with some new members and some older more experienced. We’re going to have a great year and we have lots of new ideas for the upcoming year: golf outing, Christmas party, different “only for members” Þorrablót, and much more. Make sure you send in your membership fee now so you’ll not miss out on any upcoming events. We’re “cleaning up” the membership list in January but we’ve also lowered the membership fee.

After evaluating last year’s activities two things, in my opinion, are worth highlighting: the Þorrablót where we made a profit and saw a record attendance with the ambassador and his wife, and the continuing discussions about the purpose of our Association. We’ve had lively debates about the purpose of the organization where questions like ‘do we exist for the members’? ‘Are we to promote Iceland’? ‘Are our events for people other than members who maybe have no connection to Iceland’? And many more are discussed. We have yet to redefine whom we are but we are getting there. If you’d like to take part in this identity process please voice your opinion as soon as possible in the newsletter and in our meetings, which are open to all members.

That’s it for now and I’m sticking to it.

Einar Steinsson


Association Affairs

From the Editor

There seems to be a misunderstanding that there is only one Santa Claus and that he lives on the North Pole but as all Icelanders know, all of the THIRTEEN Santas or Jólasveinar (“Christmas Lads”) live in Iceland. Icelanders themselves have different opinions on where in Iceland they live which mostly depends upon where the Icelanders grew up. People from the capitol all claim that the Lads still live at home with their parents, Grýla and Leppalúði, in the mountain Esja. Thirteen nights before Christmas they begin their descent from the mountain one by one until the last one appears in town on Christmas Eve. The first one to appear is Stekkjastaur and the last one is Kertasníkir. The others are Giljagaur, Stúfur, Gáttaþefur, Hurðaskellir, Bjúgnakrækir, Pottasleikir, Kjötkrókur, Skyrgámur (my favorite), Gluggagæir, Þvörusleikir and Askasleikir. They are a bit rough around the edges but all have a heart of gold and bring presents and the Christmas spirit to everyone. But be careful not to leave any food unguarded in your home since, as the names of most of them implies, it will be eaten. Everyone knows that carrying all these presents sure brings out your appetite if you are raised by trolls and only work 1 month out of the year. The day after Christmas they begin going back home until Þrettándann (the Thirteenth) when the last one leaves and Christmas is officially over. This is January 6th and is celebrated with Álfabrennu or Elven bonfires where you dance around the fires accompanied by Elves, goblins witches and sometimes trolls who are all happy this awfully dreadful Yuletide is gone and life can finally go back to normal. That is, until next year when the circle is repeated all over again.

When the first Santa is expected to arrive, children in Iceland put a shoe in the window and every night (if they have been nice) they get a treat from the Santa that comes into town that night. If they are naughty they receive a potato in their shoe which is not cool. And if you are very naughty you will even not get any presents on Christmas Eve and will be eaten by the big, black and scary Yulecat. So, be nice and and have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Annual Board Meeting November 2004 at CozyMel’s

Attendees: Einar Steinsson, President, Lena Hallgrímsdóttir (minute taker), John Hofteig, Anna Kárdal, Ásgeir Ólafsson, Binna Porter, Elva Johnson, Sonja & Marc Johnson, Katrin Heiðar, Steinar Guðmundsson, Joni & Larry Shaw. Kids: Óli Axel, Sigga, Ágústa Erna, Sóley Melkorka, Kristofer Mark, & Anna Katrín. Also, Joni and Larry´s daughter & family, and visiting from Iceland Lena’s brother and fiance Högni & Perla. Anna Kárdal the association’s treasurer presented last year’s numbers, which the meeting discussed and approved. The association had a profit of $701.46, which brings the current balance to $3318.66. The approved accounts are pending for Siggi Birkis’ audit in December.

The elected board for year 2005:
Einar Steinsson President
Anna Kárdal Treasurer
Lena Hallgrímsdottir Secretary
Steinar Guðmundsson Editor of Frón
Katrín Heiðar Assistant Editor of Frón
Binna Porter VP in charge of Þorrablót 2005
Elva Johnson VP
John Hofteig VP Membership
Joni Shaw VP Music & Christmas Party
Sonja Johnson VP
Stella Solis VP
Orri Hallgrímsson Webmaster

Larry Shaw was elected an Auditor of the association for the year 2004 - 2005.

Our Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry

Our traditionally decorated Christmas tree is among fifty other trees now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry. We will take the tree down on January 16 at 3 pm. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Lena.


This year’s Þorrablót will be scaled down as previously discussed and agreed to. We may or may not have a band this year. We have reserved Joni and Larry Shaw’s clubhouse for February 12th. A deadline for reserving/purchasing tickets for the blot will be set up so we would know well in advance the exact head count.

Membership in the Icelandic Association of Chicago:
Annual membership fees are due January 10, 2004. Please, send to Dr. John Hofteig, 1942 Lehigh Centre - Unit C Glenview, IL 60025, a check made payable to Icelandic Association of Chicago. The new lower association fees for 2005 are $15 for an individual and $25 for a family.

We are actively soliciting new and renewed memberships in our group. If you want to join, re-join, or know people in the Chicago area of Icelandic descent or who want to know more about Iceland, please contact John H. Hofteig, VP, Membership, [Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065] our President, Einar Steinsson, or any of the other Board Members listed on our website:

Web Page

We will be moving our website to a new domain Larry and Joni have generously offered to sponsor the domain for couple of years. The plan is to update the look of the website. More info to follow.

Yulefest 2004

Larry and Joni would like to host a Christmas party on the 26th of December at 3PM. Let us know if you are interested and have time to attend.

Letters to the Association

Þórrablót 2005, 12-February-2005 (from John Hofteig)

Almar Grímsson, recently re-elected President of the Icelandic National League of Iceland (Þjóðræknisfélag Íslendinga) and his wife, Anna Björk, will be our guests at our Þórrablót 2005. They will also be attending the Minneapolis one, co-sponsored by the Icelandic-American Association of Minnesota and the Icelandic Women’s Hekla Club, the following week, 19-February-2005 (See details below).

Steinþór Guðbjartsson, Managing Editor, The Lögberg-Heimskringla , spent some time with Almar Grímsson in Iceland in early November, 2004. The following excerpts of his interview with Almar is reprinted with the kind permission of The Lögberg-Heimskringla from the 3-December-2004 issue, which began a series of articles under the Rubric of “Destination Iceland.” Subsequent issues will contain additional impressions of contemporary Iceland, including Steinþór’s interview of Paul Sveinbjörn Johnson, long-time member of our Icelandic Association of Chicago and former Honorary Icelandic Consul General in Chicago.

Strengthening contacts and making new ones:

The INL of Iceland, or ÞFÍ, was established 65 years ago…on December 1, 1939 and was very active for a number of years,” Almar says… “It was then revitalized in 1997…. The first project was the Snorri Program [an exchange program between Iceland and North America] and I often refer to it as the single most important activity that we have implemented in recent years. In fact the Snorri Program is a cornerstone in the successful work of INL Iceland.”

The importance of the ties between Iceland and North America:

“…To me this is like reuniting a family,” he says. “Many of us who belong to the third or fourth generation of Icelanders since the mass emigration of 1870 -1914 were only vaguely informed about the history of the emigration and the life, living conditions and culture of the Icelandic descendants in North America. There is now a new wave of interest, thanks to many factors. The most important, in my opinion, is the Hofsós Emigration Centre, which has given fantastic possibilities for getting new insight and information in this respect.”

The Snorri Program started it all:

About seven years ago Almar was formally connected to the collaboration with the descendants of the Icelandic immigrants in North America. “This was through my involvement in designing and promoting the Snorri Program. I frankly admit that I was ignorant and only vaguely knew that the siblings of my great grandmother left Dýrafjörður in the period 1874 - 1890. Now I have found some of my relatives and continue to re-establish family bonds.

“These years are like a new dimension in the lives of myself and my wife, Anna Björk. We instantly fell for the spontaneous friendship and hospitality wherever we have traveled. Actually, it is largely thanks to a coincidence in 1991 when, at an international conference in Washington, D.C., I met my friend and colleague Ernest Stefanson from Gimli. Eventually this led to us coming to the Icelandic Festival in Manitoba in 1998 and since then I have been deeply involved in furthering the collaboration between Iceland and ethnic Icelanders in North America. We have made many new and very dear friends through this and I am filled with gratitude for having had the opportunity to be a part of this great movement…”

“ÞFÍ can and should play a very crucial role in tying the associations of descendants of Icelanders in North America with Iceland,” says Almar. “We are a sister organization of Þjóðræknisfélag Íslendinga í Vesturheimi, INL of North America, and work towards the same goals…We in INL Iceland…want to work directly with any organization and institution that wishes to strengthen the ties between Iceland and people of Icelandic descent in North America.”

Visits becoming more and more popular:

“…We have a very important role in educational and information activities. The last few years, historian Jónas Þór has held two courses every winter on the history of emigration. These courses have been well attended and after the first course activity many participants showed great interest in following up by visiting settlements of the Icelandic emigrants. Such tours, which we call the SAGA Tours, continue, and in addition we have increased our tour activities...”

Almar has been instrumental in breathing new life into the ÞFÍ and he has proposed some plans for the near future. “We have held meetings in the north and east of Iceland…in light of the fact that a great majority of the emigrants were from these areas. We also took the important step to sign a formal agreement between INL Iceland and The Emigration Centre at Hofsós.

“We are also developing a good working relationship with Þjóðmenningarhús — The Culture House, or National Centre of Cultural Heritage. The expansion of the Snorri Program to cover other age groups has also proven to be very successful. The Snorri Plus [for adults and seniors] program will therefore continue and hopefully grow. Then of course the ‘people meet people’ activities in organizing tours to various destinations in the United States and Canada is of major importance. We focus on meeting with people wherever we visit and have a ‘kaffisopi’ together. We are particularly fond of the visits to homes for the elderly and regard those as highlights of the tours.

“Similarly we would like to be increasingly visited by groups from the same areas… [Please see their web site for information on past and future SAGA Tours to and from North America.]


Additional biographical information about Almar is available at the website for his pharmaceutical consulting firm, ALBAS. Almar has graduate degrees in Pharmacy and his career has included extensive international and national contributions affecting public health and pharmaceutical issues. He has served in the public sector as an elected deputy to the Hafnarfjörður City Council [2002] and an alternate member of the Althingi [2003]. He has been married to Anna Björk since 1962. They have three children and four grandchildren. Anna has also worked in the public sector in Iceland, was a co-owner of the Harnarfjarðar Apotek, and is a certified Yoga instructor. In recent years they have been active hosts for the Snorri programs both in Iceland and North America. Further information is available on the excellent web site [both Icelandic and English versions] for the INL of Iceland This website has several useful links to the INL of North America, the Snorri Program, and others sites. Almar will have in hand information concerning Snorri and very much welcomes participation by the Icelandic community in Chicago!

John Hofteig (JH)

The Norwegian National League

The Norwegian National League is beginning plans for a celebration of Leif Erikson Day on the weekend of Oct. 10 & 11, 2005. The year will mark 100 years of independence for Norway, which makes every celebration next year a little more important to the League.

The DesPlaines Public Library has given us the use of their premises as they did in 2001, so we are now contacting organizations and persons who might want to participate.

We would like to know what plans the Icelandic Association might have for this October. There is nothing in Carol Hoidahl’s “Scandinavian Events Calendar” except our own wreath-laying ceremony at the statue in Humboldt Park. Would you like to help us with our plans?

We are holding a seat open on the Board of Directors for an Icelander. The annual membership fee is $20 per member. Surely one Icelander would like to join and be a voting voice in this important organization.

Les Amack

News You Can Use

The Scandinavian Park Board

The governance of the Scandinavian Park, formerly known as Vasa Park, immediately south of Elgin on Route 31, has been recently updated to provide long term prudent management of this valuable community resource. Their Board is holding open a Board Membership for a representative of the Icelandic Community. The newly reorganized Board wants to actively.professionally manage this resource year-round. Please contact Einar Steinsson or John Hofteig if you are interested in representing our community. Their Board looks forward to our continued participation, including a much improved Scandinavian Day next September and a special 2005 observance of Leif Ericksson Day.


A growing Icelandic Christmas Tree Forest in Chicago

Iceland will soon have a second Christmas Tree in Chicago! Elsewhere you will have read about the Icelandic Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry. The Cook County Treasurer’s Office [in the Cook County/City of ChicagoBuilding] is helping us decorate a smaller Icelandic Christmas Tree, illustrating the Icelandic tradition of the Jólasveinar, the traditional thirteen Christmas lads, elves, who appear and then disappear, one by one, in the days before and after Christmas. Additional information about Icelandic Christmas traditions is available at the Icelandic and English website:


Iceland’s international leadership in geothermal research

Geothermal fields have long been in full production with effluent at the well head of sufficient power to drive electrical turbines producing enormous amounts of electricity. It is one of the primary reasons why aluminum smelting is booming in Iceland and why the Hydrogen Project may provide potentially viable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, as these both require enormous amounts of electricity. The Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, a consortium attracting industrial, academic, and governmental collaborators worldwide, is directing ground-breaking research permitting both on-shore and off-shore geothermal drilling at phenomenal depths. Additional information and relevant links are available on its English and Icelandic website:


Icelandic Lamb sold in Whole Food Market

Whole Food Market again is offering Icelandic lamb this Holiday season. The lamb is available in the Wheaton store and all over the country. Some of us already have reserved some for the dark winter months. But be aware it is sold out in many places and is also godly expensive.

The Lögberg-Heimskringla is North America’s oldest newspaper continuously published in both Icelandic and English. It is publishes 24 issues per year. Printed paper copies, delivered via airmail from Winnipeg, Manitoba are available in the United States for an annual subscription of USD $ 60.00 or in an internet-accessible paperless version for CDN $ 45.00 The internet version is an economical alternative because they are in the process of digitizing all 118 years of back issues and will have additional on-line resources. Full subscriptions to the printed version include full internet access, as well. Managing Editor, Steinþór Guðbjartsson, a seasoned Icelandic journalist known to readers of the Morgunblaðið, was recruited by The Lögberg-Heimskringla to increase the breadth of its coverage to include Icelandic communities throughout all of North America. One of his goals is to travel throughout all of North America to meet and interview people of Icelandic descent and to cover matters of interest to the broader Icelandic community. Further information is available on their website:

Another reason to run, not walk, to the post office to mail in your 2005 membership dues and reservation for our Chicago Þórrablót: Steinþór plans to attend both the Chicago and Minneapolis Thorrablot’s and will want to interview as many of our members as possible. Attending Thorrablot may very well get your picture in both the Lögberg-Heimskringla and the Morgunblaðið! Such a deal!


Minneapolis Þórrablót 2005, 19-February-2005

The Icelandic-American Association of Minnesota and The Icelandic Women’s Hekla Club invite members of our group to join them at their gala dinner, 19-Feb-2005, at the Sheraton Hotel [the old Radisson South], I-494 and Highway 100 in Bloomington. The cost at $ 40.00 per person includes a full array of traditional food from Iceland, American cuisine, and entertainment [local Minneapolis-Norwegian, Leroy Larson and his Scandinavian Player, the Icelandic musician and author, Valgeir Guðjónsson, dancing, and perhaps additional musicians from Iceland]. Optional shots of Brennivin may be purchased for $ 5.00 as a fund-raiser for the Val Björnsson Scholarship Fund. Paid reservations should be sent directly to John & Jana Magnusson, 13425 Gulf Court, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124, by 5-Feb-2005. The special room rate at the Bloomington Sheraton has been over-subscribed, but interested attendees may contact John H. Hofteig [Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065] for assistance in finding affordable accommodations in the Twin Cities.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

September 2004

From the President’s Desk

Fall is here and the Annual Meeting is coming up.

The organization is growing at a record pace – not only are we finding “new” Icelanders in town and new people moving into town, but members are having babies like never before. Keep it up members, let’s get bigger than the Swedes! Anna and Ásgeir had a baby girl and so did Katrín and Steinar, our editors. Both girls are doing fine keeping their parents up all night.

Going back in time, the last “get together” we had was planned for Humboldt Park but moved at last minute to our backyard. We had a great time with about 20 people attending plus children. I stood by the grill and did hotdogs and burgers and the weather was perfect. This could not have been a better Independence Day except if it would have been in Iceland, but surely then it would have been raining J

Speaking of Iceland, we listen to the news at least once a week and/or watch the news on the computer. The format is really user-friendly and the WebPages are or If you have any problem understanding the instructions or need help understanding Icelandic then you need to sign up for a class in Icelandic!

Lastly, if you can possibly attend the General Meeting on the 24th of October, please make a note of it because we always have such a good time. All the details are elsewhere in the newsletter and please consider running for any of the positions available on the board. I’m sure we’ll have a great term 2004/2005.

Enjoy the fall weather – the colors and the perfect temperature reminding one of a good summer day in Iceland.

Einar Steinsson, President

From the Editor

Unfortunately, however you look at it, this country has got itself into another Vietnam. Then it was World Communism, now it is World Terrorism. Again just as in the 60’s the war had been going on for few years before the media started to portray a realistic picture of what was truly going on. That was largely due to information being held back but now it seems to be more based on fear. The corporate run media is afraid it will turn away viewers with uncomfortable news and also that the government will shut them out in the cold. Therefore, I recommend listening to the National Public Radio (I do not think I have heard the Laci Peterson trial mentioned there yet!) where you can hear some interesting reports from journalists such as Ivan Watson who have been close to the events in Iraq. Also, I find it most interesting to read the blogs written by the soldiers themselves and their commanding officers. That is probably the best way to find out what is really going on. Few of the blogs have been extremely popular and some have now been shut down by the military and the bloggers have been disciplined since it was thought the blogs contained sensitive information.

Annual Board Meeting

The Icelandic Association of Chicago’s Annual Board Meeting will be held at Cozy Mel's in Wheaton Sunday the 24th of October at 5:30 PM. Cozy Mel’s is off Butterfield Road on Loop Road and can be seen on the right side of Butterfield Road if you are traveling West. The agenda will be as follows:

Meeting commencement
Last year’s accounts reviewed
Board election
President election
Accountant election
Association fees
Website and newsletter
Meeting adjourned

Please, RSVP before the 15th of October whether you are attending. Either contact Einar Steinsson by e-mail or phone (773.489.4621) or Binna Porter (630.231.5951). Let us also know if you need a lift and we can arrange for that. You can also check out Cozy Mel's webpage for further directions and information. We will just order off the menu and average meal is about $15.

Christmas at the Museum of Science and Industry

Our annual Christmas tree decoration at the Museum of Science of Industry is a fun tradition. This year we will decorate the tree on November 14th at 2 pm and take down the decorations January 16 at 3 pm. Everyone interested in participating and helping out is welcome, please sign up with Lena (773-489-4621). The tree will be on display over the Holidays along with trees from other nations.

Letters to the Association

Apartment Swap Chicago – Iceland

We have an apartment in Chicago and are looking for someone to swap apartments with us in Iceland. We plan to be in Iceland from December 21 to the 2nd or 5th of January. We are looking for an apartment or a house in Greater Reykjavik for this time period where its owners would be able to use our place in Chicago. If this suits you please contact me via e-mail:

Best regards,

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

May 2004

From the President’s Desk

From now on “Members Only”!

The board met at Siggi’s house at the beginning of April. We had a very good meeting with lively debates about the future of the association and evaluating the 2004 Þorrablót. Siggi and Bonny thanks for hosting.

This year’s Þorrablót was a great success with record number of attendees. It was an honor to have the ambassador, Helgi Ágússon and his wife, Hervör Jónasdóttir, attending - they are great representatives of Iceland. They had a very good time and at the end of his speech they both sang for us and many people joined in. They said the food was the best Þorrafood they ever had and keep in mind they’ve attended lot of Þorrablóts. Later in the newsletter we have the financial results of the Þorrablót, but this year we had a record number of guests and non-members attending, which has its pros and cons. Next year we are going to scale down the Þorrablót to members only and have it at someone’s house or a small banquette hall. Everyone is interested in making the Þorrablót a more intimate event with the Icelandic food and the raffle but not importing a band. It is going to be different and hopefully a lot of fun.

The board decided to clean up the membership list to only include those who have paid membership. There is really no point in running an organization for non-members. This will streamline the operation and make it better for everyone. So if you have been receiving the newsletter even if you have not paid the membership fee, sorry, it will not happen again. But at the same time we are orchestrating a membership drive. So, if you have not paid DO IT TODAY. Mail the check to Anna Kardal @ 719 Wildflower Circle Naperville, IL 60540. The fee is $20 for individuals and $30 for family membership.

Lastly, at the meeting we looked into the future and asked ourselves a lot of good questions, such as, what is the purpose of the organization? Were should we go from here? What are our short and long-term goals? Etc. Well, we did not have all the answers so I am contemplating creating a special committee that would work on the statement of purpose for the association, as well as, long and short-term goals. If you are interested in working with us on this let me know.

“Gleðilegt Sumar” or “Happy Summer”

Einar Steinsson, President

Association Affairs

From the Editor

The Third Chicago Major Airport – Chicago West Airport

There has been much talk regarding the proposed South Suburban Airport in Peotone. Even though it has not been as much discussed now during Blagojevich’s term there were hot debates between Governor Ryan and Mayor Daley. After I moved out further West of Chicago to Belvidere I have found out that there actually is a full size airport close to Chicago. It is Rockford Airport which not many people know about. It is about 1.5 hour away from downtown and 45-60 minutes from Schaumburg and the West Suburbs. The airport is the main hub for UPS and other cargo companies for the area. Despite being set up as a complete air terminal for commercial airlines, the only commercial airline that flies there so far is TransMeridian Airlines or TMA which is sort of a daughter company of old TWA. TMA offers very cheap fares to Orlando, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico. Plans are in way to increase the services and other airlines are looking into flying to this airport and PARKING IS FREE.

The Direction of the Association

At the last Association (IAC) meeting it was decided to reduce the size of the Þorrablót next year. The Þorrablót has traditionally been the largest event of the year. The last one was very well attended and a great success where many people outside the IAC showed up and it recieved some publicity in the local newspapers. But the argument is that Þorrablót was never meant to be a tourist attraction but mainly for the members of the IAC. But why not reach out and branch out. The problem is that to set this up takes a lot of volunteer hours and effort and usually the people that arrange everything the do not get to enjoy it since they are busy making sure everything goes smoothly.

This brings me to my next question. What is the purpose of the IAC? It started out as a chess club but has developed into an ethnic association with its own traditions. It was through the IAC that I first learned of other Icelanders and people of Icelandic descent when I first moved into the area. I soon came active within the IAC and became acquainted with other active members. The newsletter has been printed and sent out to 70 families and individual and most of them have only a very loose affiliation if none at all, to the IAC. So, who is it for? There is also a faction of the IAC that wants to branch out and join the Icelandic National League such as Jon Hofteig suggests in his piece. To do so would suggest a different purpose of the IAC that being a resource for Icelanders moving to Chicago, where it would become a vehicle to keep up affiliation with Icelanders in the whole United States.

There was some discussion on the last board meeting on this subject. There are different directions within the IAC and even within the Board and you might have different ideas. I believe we need to have a serious discussion what the purpose of this association and where we need to take it in the future if anywhere.

Hæ, hó, jibbíjei og jibbíjei, það er að koma 17di júní...

This year we're going to celebrate our national holiday in Humboldt Park, Chicago, Saturday June 19, at 3 PM. Our independence picnic will be in the same fashion as before, i.e., bring some food and beverages, lawn chairs, picnic tables, games, etc. If anyone has a portable BBQ please bring it!

Humboldt Park is located between North Avenue (North), Kedzie Avenue (West), California Avenue (East) and Division Street (South). We'll be stationed with our Icelandic flag by the Boat House West of Humboldt Park Blvd. And south of North Avenue but the boulevard runs North and South through the park. There is a small parking lot in front of the Boat House and non-permit street parking on the side streets. Please be advised that this weekend Puerto Ricans will also be celebrating their national holiday, although, in a different part of the park. To avoid traffic congestion and/or closed streets due to their festival, please use North Avenue as your connection route to Humboldt Park Blvd.

Please visit for the history of Humboldt Park, which interestingly has a statue of Leifur Eiríksson (Leif the Lucky), who, like we all know is an Icelander and the discoverer of America! Feel free to call Lena and Einar (773-489-4621) for more information.

85th Annual General Meeting of the Icelandic National League of North America [INL of NA]

The 85th AGM of the INL of NA was held from Thursday evening, 22-April-2004, through Sunday noon, 25-April-2004, at the Gull Harbour Resort & Conference Centre on historic Hekla Island, about two-and-a-half hours north of Winnipeg on Lake Winnipeg. Hekla Island and Gimli (about an hour north of Winnipeg), settled by early Icelandic immigrants to Canada beginning in 1875, were among the earliest important fishing ports on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. Hekla Island and the larger community of Gimli were early centers of New Iceland, enjoying considerable political autonomy until this Federal District of the Northwest Territories came under Manitoba provincial governance. Gimli became the North American headquarters for the Old Icelandic Lutheran Synod and is now best known as the venue for the very large annual Íslendingadagurinn, the Icelandic Festival held the weekend of the first Monday in August, and the site of one of the Bethel Retirement Homes. Gimli and Winnipeg, at various times, hosted several Icelandic publishing houses.

John H. Hofteig, a member of our Board, has been attending the past three INL of NA AGM’s [Hekla Island, Edmonton, and Minneapolis] as an unofficial observer from the Icelandic Association of Chicago and as a member of the Minnesota Icelandic Association. This report from Hekla Island is intended to encourage our group, once again, to join the INL in some official capacity. The INL of NA promotes cultural ties between Iceland and Western Icelandic communities in both Canada and the US. It is comprised of about a dozen chapters and a dozen affiliate organizations throughout North America, most of which are based in Canada. It does, indeed, however, have member organization from within the US as well as US-based members on its Board. The INL of NA is also affiliated with the INL of Iceland.

This year’s AGM was hosted by the Bruin Chapter, The Icelandic Association of Selkirk, Manitoba. Their Maxine Ingalls narrated a fascinating history of commercial fishing on Lake Winnipeg, which early on occupied the time, energy, and innovation of several immigrants to New Iceland. Entertainment included the Arborg, MB-based New Iceland Youth Choir and the touring Reykjavík-based adult choirs, The Past Time and Rainbow Choirs. Julíus Hafstein, a member of the Prime Minister’s staff and Director of the Government Office of Special Projects, surveyed the Centenary of Home Rule in Iceland. Begun in 1904, it represented the most dramatic societal changes leading directly to eventual sovereignty, universal suffrage, and considerable opportunities for all Icelanders.

Long-standing programmatic activities of the INL of NA include support of publications [Icelandic Canadian Magazine and Lögberg-Heimskringla], language training, the International Visits Program, the Snorri Exchange Programs, Íslendingadagurinn, a very rich website (, and frequent formal and informal contact with Icelandic communities in North America and Iceland --- both the INL of Iceland and the Government of Iceland. Newer, experimental programs include a new database to facilitate house and apartment exchange between North America and Iceland, “Homecoming 2004” Program, a guest house/meeting facility in Gimli owned by the Government of Iceland, managed by the INL of NA, additional new initiatives under the rubric of “New Directions,” and newly formed ad hoc steering committees in both Canada and the US to explore fund raising options to permit the INL to dramatically extend its programmatic outreach throughout all of North America.

The Lögberg-Heimskringla, the oldest continuous North American publication chronicling Western Icelanders, is based in Winnipeg. Its new Managing Editor, Steinþór Guðbjartsson, a seasoned Icelandic journalist, recently on the staff of the Morgunblaðið, was very active at the AGM, making it very well known that he is committed to visiting and interviewing Western Icelanders anywhere in North America, including Chicago!

The International Visits Program, with the assistance of Icelandair, various financial backers, and local participation, brings a variety of artists, musicians, authors, and others either from Iceland to North America or vice-versa. Venues typically are communities that are represented by an official member of the INL of NA willing and able to underwrite some of the local on-site costs and provide in-home accommodations. One of the goals of the proposed targeted fund raising is to enable this program to be extended to almost any Icelandic community in North America willing to brew a fresh pot of strong coffee and make kleinur, vínarterta, and pönnukökur.

The Snorri Program enjoys considerable logistic and financial assistance from the Government of Iceland and the INL’s of Iceland and North America. It is a six week-long program enabling North American youth of Icelandic descent under the age of thirty to visit Iceland, participate in total immersion in all things Icelandic, have a summer job, live with an Icelandic family, meet relatives, and participate in a final week-long group adventure tour of Iceland, capped by a reception hosted by the President of Iceland. More recently, these programs have been expanded to include Snorri West [for younger Icelanders coming to North America], and Snorri Plus [for Western Icelanders over thirty coming to Iceland for a structured two week period adapted to professional and personal interests in Iceland]. Further detail is available on its Website: As you might imagine, the program is named after Snorri, the first Icelandic and European child to be born in the New World.

“Homecoming 2004,” the newest program, will afford Snorri-like benefits to any Western Icelander able to participate in the weeklong events planned in Iceland from 22-Aug-2004 to 29-Aug-2004, overlapping with many of the traditional Snorri programs. For a limited time, Icleandair is reserving a block of tickets at favorable rates. Interested would be participants can find further information and an on-line registration application at the Snorri website.

The Government of Iceland is purchasing a condominium in Gimli, to be managed locally by the INL of NA, to be used as a guesthouse for visiting Icelandic artists and scholars, and as a venue for their further outreach to all of North America. It is hoped that this will be the first of many such venues throughout North America.

The “New Directions” is an INL of NA initiative to expand its programmatic outreach throughout all of North America. The recent Hekla Island AGM authorized ad hoc steering committees in both Canada and the United States to negotiate with suitable, established, like-minded organizations which already have tax-exempt charitable status with, respectively, Revenue Canada and the Internal Revenue Service, to use these organizations as “conduits” through which to collect targeted tax-deductible funds raised from individual and corporate donors to strengthen and broaden the programmatic outreach of the INL throughout North America. More news will be forthcoming regarding this new initiative.

While participating in the Hekla Island AGM, several attendees came up to John to offer suggestions for prospective members for our own Icelandic Association of Chicago. It seems as though everybody everywhere knows someone living in Chicago! In this regard, please notify either Einar Steinsson, our President, or John, Membership VP [Cell Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065] if you know of anyone in the Chicago metropolitan area who might be a potential new member. The more, the merrier! The INL of NA will be preparing a guide to “best practices,” compiling examples of initiatives to increase membership and participation that have worked in other INL chapters and affiliates. John will circulate the same to the group.

Another benefit of this year’s AGM was the opportunity to meet again with Almar Grímsson, the recently elected President of The INL of Iceland and a long-time shepherd of the Snorri Program. Almar, personally and with generous financial support from the Government of Iceland, is committed to traveling almost anywhere in North America to meet with and assist Western Icelandic communities and organizations this year and next, regardless of whether they are currently members or affiliates of either The INL of North America or Iceland.

The Board of the Icelandic Association of Chicago and Larry and Joni Shaw have extended an official invitation for Almar and his wife, Anna Björk, to come to Chicago the weekend of August 6th and August 7th, at which time he will bring us greetings from the INL of Iceland and the Government of Iceland. He obviously hopes to encourage us to join either or both the INL of North America and the INL of Iceland. Regardless of any collective decision regarding same, Almar is a dynamic and very effective ambassador for Iceland and you will want to put his visit on your calendar! Stay tuned for further details.

Currently, affiliate membership in the INL of NA entails an annual fee of CDN $ 100.00 and entitles the affiliate organization to have one voting delegate at AGM’s. Full membership is currently based on dues which approximate CDN $ 4.00 per member up to fifty members, and then dramatically scales down, thereafter. Some of the programs of the INL of NA are available directly or indirectly to any Western Icelandic community in North America while official member organizations are given preference to participate in specific programs. Further information regarding any aspect of the INL may be obtained from John [Cell Phone: 847 + 493 – 9065].

Letters to the Association

Icelandic Clubs Special Offer:

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Scandinavian Children's Events

To aid improved use of the Park for teaching Scandinavian culture & traditions to benefit our young folks, some have talked of an event(s) that we could sponsor bringing all five cultures together for a "hands on" learning experience". This would not be a commercial or fund raising event. Suggestions have been for a "brown bag" picnic with pop & juice available at the Park or ethnic foods @ nominal cost.

We ask each of you to consider activities of your culture (crafts, music, dance, literature, etc.) that can contribute to this goal and share with us your ideas & as possible folks who can help make it happen. Realizing all have busy schedules & commitments we ask that on line sharing be used until a meeting becomes necessary. Of course if you wish to start with a sit down meeting that will be arranged.

Thanks for your continued interest in preserving Scandinavian Culture.

Scandinavian Park, Inc. NFP

Jack Grandin, Treasurer


I am planning to Visit Iceland in September and would love to be able to talk to someone here, about where to stay and visit. While I have looked over the travel books, it seems like there is so much to see - I could stay there for months. I will be on a sheep roundup for part of the time, Reykavík, Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon, but I do have more time. I am looking for information on nice places to stay, swing dance clubs (East and West), where to buy a nice warm coat, restaurants, and helping me with some of the language. (I am trying to learn a few phrases and words) Any help you can provide would be great.

Thank you. Takk

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Luxus Trips to Iceland

We are a company in Iceland specializing in Luxury trips to Iceland with limousine service with specially trained chauffeurs and guides. We also run a luxury car rental service. All the cars are new Lexus 430 President, Lincoln Town car and Lincoln Navigator.

We thought the best advertisement would be to appeal to Icelanders living a abroad to bring the word to foreigners interested in our country. Therefore we are contacting a selected group of Icelanders living abroad and offering them to be our ambassadors and receive a percentage of sales that result from referrals from them.

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