His Majesty King Harald V of Norway visited Homer and Kachemak Bay on Tuesday as part of his visit to Alaska. An enthusiastic crowd of about 100 greeted him at the Homer Harbor load-launch ramp, many waving Norwegian flags and wearing Norwegian sweaters. Several fishing boats also hung Norwegian flags.
King Harald personally greeted Margit Andersson, 102, who had waited several hours with her son, Ole, and other family, to see him.
“She was really quite amazed she had met the King,” said Ole Andersson. “He seemed quite gentle with her … It was quite an honor he recognized her.”
The King also toured Kachemak Bay to learn about the local effects of climate change. Scientists Heather Renner of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Angela Doroff of the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve briefed him onboard the Rainbow Connection as it motored to and from Tutka Bay.
“He was most interested and supportive of science. He asked great questions,” Renner said. “It was great to see his enthusiasm with science. … It was a wide-open discussion about climate change.”
Doroff said His Majesty was particularly interested in the lower Kenai Peninsula’s spruce-bark beetle infestation of the 1990s.
“He was a lot about ‘cut to the chase. You live here. What do you see?’” Doroff said of her conversation with King Harald V.
The Norwegian king, the Norwegian and Alaska press, and his entourage flew down from Anchorage to Homer in four Blackhawk helicopters operated by the Alaska Army National Guard, 1/207th Aviation. Under royal protocol, he visited at the invitation of Homer Mayor Beth Wythe, who officially welcomed him at the Homer Airport and accompanied him across the bay. Wythe gave His Majesty the key to the city. King Harald also visited with Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, Kåre Aas. Kachemak Bay Campus Director Carol Swartz, who helped organize the trip, gave Aas a copy of “Kachemak Bay, Alaska,” a pictorial and text overview of Kachemak Bay published by the Homer Foundation. The group ate lunch at Tutka Bay Lodge and were personally greeted by lodge owner Kirsten Dixon. His Majesty returned to Anchorage on Tuesday for a dinner with Gov. Bill Walker.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at email@example.com.