Vigil dedication honors Blaine’s Icelandic heritage
Fog, that age-old enemy of the fisherman, couldn’t dampen the spirits of the 500 or so Blaine residents and visiting friends who gathered at the H Street boardwalk plaza last weekend for the unveiling and dedication of the Vigil, a life-size bronze sculpture by Blaine’s Bob McDermott.
As people streamed into the two-block section of Peace Portal that was closed for the festivities, Jon Pfaff and his quintet, The Sometimes Singers, sang sea songs, including the well-known Scandinavian folk song Hils fra Meg der Hjamme, A Sailor’s Greeting, which the contemporaries of the people the statue depicts would have sung at sea.
Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic introduced one of three honored guests, Vivian Campin, who read Jan Hrutfiord’s history of Blaine. Hrutfiord herself, as well as Andrew Dahl and Barbara Schugt, were dressed up in period clothing.
Hrutfiord and Dahl were the models for the faces on the sculpture, but since Hrutfiord couldn’t dress as both people she modeled, Schugt filled in, carrying her dog Harmonys that was used to model the small dog in the sculpture.
Tomsic then gave a tribute to the former Blaine mayor and his good friend Dieter Schugt, to whom the statue is dedicated and who died two years earlier.
A large photo of Schugt by local photographer Pete Kendall was brought to the ceremony by Pat Alesse and stood beside the monument.
Bruce Wolf, who chaired fundraising efforts on behalf of the sponsoring Pacific Arts Association, introduced a stream of supporters, in-kind contributors and corporate representatives.
Bob McDermott then took the mic to tell the story of the vigil, that it shows a dimension of fishing family life not often recognized, those people left behind on shore to watch and wait, to keep a vigil.
As Blaine’s Icelandic Heritage Society, represented by Harold and Leona Olason, made McDermott an honorary Icelander, the sculpture models marched south from G Street to the ceremony in front of the Blaine high school band to a march tune, “Men of Pennsylvania.”
The three, Hrutfiord, Dahl and Schugt, made their way through the crowd to the statue, still draped with the foresail from Ken and Rachel Ely’s Naniloa. With Bruce Wolf’s help, the three tugged it off and the Vigil was revealed.