Community volunteers Glen and Michele Jacobsen of Solvang will be the grand marshals of the 2018 Solvang Danish Days parade on Saturday, Sept. 15.
In making the selection, the Solvang Danish Days Foundation cited the Jacobsens’ tireless efforts for Danish Days and Glen Jacobsen’s extensive involvement with numerous other community organizations.
“Being named Danish Days grand marshal is certainly an honor, but the main reward is actually getting to witness everyone in town that weekend, enjoying this huge production that we work so hard to bring to the community,” Glen Jacobsen said.
Glen Jacobsen’s history in Solvang runs deep.
His father, Knud Jacobsen, was born in Denmark on the island of Årø (in “Sønder Jutland”). At the age of 18, Knud enlisted in the Danish Army. Soon he moved to the United States, where he joined his uncles on their farm on the “Buell Flat” at the edge of downtown Solvang.
He then enlisted in the U.S. Army and was shipped to Germany, but upon his return to Solvang he met Glen Jacobsen’s mother, Elizabeth Simonsen, whose parents – Jens and Marie Simonsen – were also Danish immigrants. Simonsen’s parents had first settled in Iowa, where Elizabeth was born, but moved their family to Solvang in the 1940s to be with the other Danes in the growing Danish community.
Glen Jacobsen’s strong bonds to the local economy and community of Solvang are “cemented” in the family construction business, KJ Concrete, which Knud Jacobsen founded and ran for about 20 years before Glen took the helm.
Glen Jacobsen’s three daughters, Lauren, 29 (who was the 2006 Danish Maid), Lexi, 27, and Laini, 25, have all participated in Danish Days their entire lives.
Glen, a Solvang native, originally met his wife, Michele, in high school, after she moved to Solvang with her family in 1972. Glen and Michele later reconnected in 1998.
Jacobsen has been a member and board member of the Vikings of Solvang organization for many years and is a past chief of the charitable organization. He is also a member of the board of Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation, for which Michele also actively volunteers; is a trustee for the Danish Brotherhood Solvang Lodge; and a past president of Solvang’s Danish Brotherhood.
In January 2016, Jacobsen was named the volunteer of the Year by the Solvang Chamber of Commerce. The Jacobsens are also members of Solvang’s Bethania Lutheran Church.
As Danish Days celebrates 82 years in 2018, Glen Jacobsen has been working behind the scenes to make the annual event happen for more than half of that time.
He has been part of the Solvang Danish Days crew since he was a child, when he started to help with set-up and tear-down of the annual festival’s infrastructure. In 1977, prior to the founding of the Solvang Danish Days Foundation Board, Jacobsen took over the Danish Days role of Breakfast Chairman, a post now held by Rodney Nielsen. Jacobsen has been an active member of the board for many years and has continuously helped in the event’s planning and operation, with Michele by his side in Danish Days activities.
“Danish Days is a very special time of year,” Jacobsen said, “but I’m lucky enough to be able to be a part of this community, helping to shape its future and retain its past, all year long.”
Anna Ferguson-Sparks works at Stiletto Marketing.