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Heidi Anderson has spent most of her life participating in Danish Days in one way or another. She has baked for the event’s time-honored Aebleskiver breakfasts, participated in the parade, and manned a booth to help raise money for the local Danish Brotherhood.

But she has not been the Danish Maid – until this year. “I’ve wanted to be the maid for as long as I can remember,” she told the Journal on Monday. “I didn’t think I’d be selected, because most of the maids are in high school,” said Anderson, 19. “After I turned in my essay explaining why I wanted to be the 2010 Danish Maid and interviewed, I got a call a half-hour later.” Anderson was chosen by the Solvang Danish Days Foundation and her responsibility is to represent the community in various parades, events, breakfasts and social events. The 74th annual celebration of Solvang’s Danish heritage takes place Sept. 17-19. Anderson is a 2009 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, where she was an active member of the National Honors Society. She also spent six years volunteering for the National Charity League. She is a member of the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, where she has been involved in various youth group projects, and was a youth delegate at a national convention of the Missouri Synod.

Anderson credits her parents, Tone and Michael, for her devotion to volunteer work. “Because it was always something my family did, it was the normal thing to go and volunteer on the weekend,” she said, “even when almost everyone else was doing other things.”

The Solvang native currently attends Santa Barbara City College, and she plans on transferring to Concordia University in Irvine to study interior design, with an emphasis on the organizational aspects of design.

“So far, the only interior design I’ve done is remodeling my room and painting it,” she said, with a laugh. “But I get so excited watching interior designers on TV. I guess I unconsciously caught the bug.”

Just like most Danish maids, Anderson is a native of Solvang, and part of her lineage branches back to Denmark.

Her grandfather, Danish-born Frode K. Jensen, came to Solvang in 1928 to attend Atterdag College, the Danish Folk school. He was a member of the Danish Brotherhood and conducted the meetings in Danish. He also was the manager of Pea Soup Andersen’s restaurant from 1929 to about 1940. He and her grandmother, Helen Jensen, operated the Sunny Corner Café and Solvang Inn Restaurant. Helen, a woman of Norwegian descent, became a charter member of the Danish Sisterhood. Other relatives include a great-uncle, the late Kris Klibo, a celebrated blacksmith who created many ornamental iron works in the Valley, and his wife, Olga, who was instrumental in making the Buellton Library.

Anderson’s Danish great-grandparents, Jens Severin Marius Jensen and Ane Kristine Jorgine Nielsen, immigrated to Wisconsin in 1903 and operated a dairy farm with their five sons, including Anderson’s grandfather and great-uncle. “It’s been a privilege growing up in Solvang, because you learn more about your heritage every day,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t want to have grown up anywhere else.”

Anderson’s mother was a Danish Days gymnast under the tutelage of Viggo Tarnow and she danced for years at the festival. Her father has helped with the Danish Days breakfast since 1981.

For more information, call the Danish Days office at 686-9386.