Sankta Lucia lights up the holidays with annual festival

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BEMIDJI — From a peaceful, candlelit procession to flossing gingerbread men, the 44th annual Sankta Lucia Festival held on Friday morning offered a smorgasbord of entertainment.

About 25 children took to the stage to kick off the early morning festivities, singing a variety of Swedish melodies, along with a spoken word program.

The lights were dimmed and soloist Drew Hougard began to sing as violinist Sonya Connell played, winding her way through the Calvary Lutheran sanctuary, followed by the Sankta Lucia procession.

In the procession was this year’s Sankta Lucia Erin Runningen, followed by first alternate Madeline Hanson, senior attendants Nora Carlson, Emma Hanson and Brooklyn Saiger, junior attendants Claire Carlson, Clare Fogelson and Annaka Reed, and star boys Erick Haskell and Brue Friborg.

Once the procession was all on stage, the congregation sang several hymns together before heading into the Fellowship Hall for a traditional Swedish breakfast and program.

The annual event is hosted by the Bemidji affiliate of the American Swedish Institute, which chose Runningen, 17, as the 2019 Sankta Lucia. She is a senior at Northfield High School and has participated in this celebration for the past 14 years.

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