It didn’t look like it would be much of a Midsummer Festival in New York City this year. The skies looked gray and gloomy and threatened heavy rain; as a few kids were playing ball in the wet grass, some put their newly made flower wreaths on top of their rain ponchos. Decidedly Swedish weather for a decidedly Swedish festival.

At 5:30 a tentative, and shortened, sing-along with the Sound of Sweden Choir began, directed by David Johansson who at first couldn’t use the piano for the ever-present drizzle. The Midsummer procession, led by Consul General of Sweden, NY, David Dangoor, took place in light rain. But then something happened! All of a sudden, the skies cleared, the sun appeared and it seemed like people turned up by the hundreds. Gone in a hurry were sweaters, parkas and umbrellas. Picnics were pulled out, and the folk dancing (performed by Barnklubben Elsa Rix – recently honored as the “2011 Sweden Day Organization of the Year” at Sweden Day in the Bronx and Swedish Folkdancers of New York) and the dancing around the Maypole could take place. Traditional Swedish music was performed by Paul Dahlin & Friends from American Swedish Institute and called by folk musician and Swedish heritage historian Ross Sutter and his guests Gunnar and Lena Iggendal, leaders of the Stockholm’s Spelmanslag.

If we can’t celebrate Midsummer in Sweden, there’s nothing better than celebrating it in New York’s Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park, with the glittering water, the ferries and the beautiful Statue of Liberty watching over us. Food from AQ Kafé/Aquavit, Gigino’s at Wagner Park, Fika Espresso Bar, My Smoothie, Smörgås Chef, and White Slab Palace was available, as was the accustomed “aquavit” – the spiced spirit that has been produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century.
We raise our glasses to you and say: “Skål och Glad Midsommar!”