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Danish Days may still be months away, but the Danish Days Foundation has already found this year’s Danish Maid.

Kylie Lund Petersen is a 17-year-old junior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and she is also 2011’s Danish Maid. The announcement from the foundation came last week and it was a welcome surprise to Petersen. She said she applied for the role and did an interview. A week later, she found out she would be filling the position for the centennial year. “I was really excited,” she said, noting that it was a big year for Solvang.

Petersen said she had wanted to be a Danish Maid since she was young and her then babysitter played the part. Her parents knew of her desire to represent the city and encouraged her to interview since this year would be her last chance because she plans to be away at college pursuing a nursing degree the next time Danish Days rolls around.

Now that she has been selected, Petersen has a lot of work cut out for her. The role of a Danish Maid isn’t all riding in parades and waving. Among other tasks, she will be working to promote the event and raise funds for it in various ways, including handing out promotional material at Solvang’s Farmers Market during the summer. This year’s maid duties are even fuller as the centennial celebrations provide a whole slew of new events in the city.

But that’s doesn’t appear to daunt Petersen. Not only is she an accomplished athlete at the high school and a member of the National Honor Society, but she also has a large amount of experience when it comes to tourism in Solvang. Her parents own the Greenhouse Café and Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates, and her father’s family owns the Petersen Inn along with Mortensen’s Danish Bakery. She said she grew up working in the business and learning about the Solvang experience.

Petersen’s mother is a first-generation Danish immigrant and so is her grandfather on her father’s side. She says she is proud of her Danish heritage and ready to serve. “I think it’s kind of cool that I’m more than just half-Danish,” she says, pointing to her three-quarters heritage. Petersen said she has traveled back to the land of her ancestors several times and was captivated by the history, the natural beauty and the architecture. “It’s a small country and not that many people are Danish, so I like being part of the culture,” she said.

One of the biggest parts of being the Danish Maid is creating the dress. Each maid’s dress is different and each reflects their personality in some way. Petersen said, “Danish dress corresponds to different regions, so I decided to look at where we were from for inspiration.” Once she had an idea of what she wanted, it was off to the dressmaker though not without a few personal tweaks. “It’s a little more modern,” she admits, saying she decided a red dress would suit her better than the green ones she had seen in examples.

Between now and Danish Days, she will have plenty of opportunities to show off her dress and promote the festival. Danish Days starts on Friday, Sept. 16, and continues through the weekend. The event will include dancing, demonstrations, a parade and maybe even a visit from Danish royalty. Solvang councilwoman Joan Jamieson announced at the Monday council meeting that the Centennial Committee had secured a visit from the mayor of Solvang’s sister city Aalborg for the festival. She also reminded the public that the event would welcome a group of bike riders from Denmark, along with the American ambassador to that country.

brookshire@syvjournal.com