The following is a press release from Councilman Vincent Gentile:
BAY RIDGE – On an unseasonably cold and snowy Saturday morning in late October, Councilman Vincent J. Gentile joined Royal Norwegian Deputy Consul General Henrik Width along with representatives and natives of the Farsund Municipality of Vest Agder, Norway and the Scandinavian East Coast Museum to finalize the unique “Sister City” agreement between Bay Ridge and Farsund.
Originally scheduled to take place at Leif Erickson Park, the unexpected inclement weather forced the hearty crowd to move inside to the equally apropos First Evangelical Free Church across the street. Many of the native Norwegians in attendance said the weather was absolutely perfect – emblematic of the classic winters in Norway.
“Today we gather to recognize the Farsund Municipality of Vest Agder,” Councilman Gentile began, “a Norwegian town that wears its solidarity with Kings County proudly on its sleeve.”
“In fact, there were so many Norwegians who had come to call Bay Ridge home that native Norwegian author Siri Hustvedt said growing up she had heard so many stories about Brooklyn that she thought “everyone in Brooklyn was Norwegian!”
Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony at the First Evangelical Free Church
Royal Norwegian Deputy Consul General Henrik Width spoke of first coming to America two years ago and going directly to Brooklyn. Victor Samuelsen, a prominent New Yorker who grew up in Farsund, read a letter of support from the Mayor of Farsund, Richard Ivar Buch. Victoria Hofmo, Bay Ridge activist and president of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, described in detail the area in Farsund known as “Brooklyn Square” where every year they host an “American Festival” which the natives call “The best thing that happened to Farsund since Brooklyn!” with 50s and 60s American music, classic cars, a Norwegian Elvis and lots of old Brooklyn memorabilia on display.
“We have a saying in and round these parts of Brooklyn,” Councilman Gentile said, “in Brooklyn, it’s important to ‘remember where you came from’ and with this signing that the Mayor of Farsund already executed and I am about to sign, we celebrate our two cities and shine a spotlight on the mutual contributions that have vastly enriched all of our lives.”
The agreement, which had been in the works for over a year, became even more significant after the terror attacks in Utøya and Oslo this past summer. To solidify an unbreakable bond, Councilman Gentile had a special Norway sunset maple tree planted in Leif Erickson Park in order to symbolize the roots Bay Ridge shares with Norway and to commemorate the 77 lives lost in the Norway terrorist attacks of July 2011.