The ghosts of Viking Days past

Sticky with syrup from the pancake breakfast, I remember shivering on a cold October morning as I sat with my brother, my mom, her best friends from college and their families watching the Viking Days parade. I was probably eight at the time, and had no idea the role that Augustana played in my past or would play in my future.

Being an Augustana legacy doesn’t mean what it might at other universities, but it does mean that for me, Viking Days has played a unique role in my life. In short, Viking Days represents the past, not just Augustana’s past, but mine and my family’s.

My mom is a fairly active alumnus, so she does her best to come back for Viking Days whenever she can. Considering she lives in Colorado, it’s no small feat. It was important to her, though, so Augustana became a part of my childhood.

Viking Days, for my family, is first and foremost a chance to see old friends. My mom’s friends from college call themselves the JALS (Jessica, Aimee, Lisa and Stacy). When reunion years roll around, the four of them start planning for the weekend months in advance. Sometimes we even get matching T-shirts. 

The group attends as many of the alumni events as they can. My mom commented that she misses Viking Varieties, the annual variety show that Augustana used to put on during Viking Days. 

It is imperative that the traditional pictures be taken at the Augustana sign, the Ole statue and sometimes in front of Old Main, which the JALS supposedly broke into while they were students.

One of my mom’s favorite Viking Days traditions is participating in the alumni choir. She was heavily involved in the fine arts during her time at Augustana, an interest that I share with her. I know how special it is to her that she has the opportunity to sing with the choir again.

One of the most disappointing things for me last year was that my first Viking Days as a student didn’t feel like the Viking Days of my memories. I understood the changes that had to be made, but I still mourned one of the many things that COVID-19 has taken from us as a community. I am hopeful, though, that I will experience a normal Viking Days during my time here. 

Looking forward to next weekend, ¾ of the JALS will be descending on campus. I am also excited to attend a parade and football game again.

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