Local scout seeks Eagle rank with help from a smoke-breathing dragon

Xander Siqveland directs the loading of Thor onto the trailer. (Photo courtesy Jody Siqveland)

It’s taken 10 years to rise from Tiger Scout in the first grade and aim for his Eagle Scout rank as a junior at Mountlake Terrace High School this fall. Sixteen-year-old Edmonds resident Xander Siqveland hopes to top off his scouting career with a nod to his heritage — refurbishing a parade float built in the form of a 30-foot Viking ship, smoke-belching dragon figurehead and all.

“I’ve belonged to the Sons of Norway most of my life,” Siqveland said. When he heard the veteran float was moldering in someone’s backyard, he thought it would make a great Eagle Scout project, for which he must plan, develop and lead a community service effort.

The float has a storied past in the Norwegian community, appearing in the Edmonds Fourth of July parades as well as Norwegian Syttende Mai celebrations known for a grand parade in Ballard every May 17.

Al Vadset provided this photo of himself with Thor in better days.

Al Vadset, a longtime member of the Edmonds Sons of Norway, joined a team of other lodge members to create the original float 35 years ago. “Our first one more or less came apart on its maiden voyage,” he recalled, adding that at the time he said, “We can do better than this.” The new version was much sturdier. “Over the years, several additions were added, like oars, the carved dragon’s head, and smoke that bellows from the dragon’s mouth, a big hit at parades,” said Vadset.

The float features smoke bellowing from the dragon’s head. (Photo courtesy Jody Siqveland)

Being stored outdoors most of its life, the float fell into disrepair. “Most of the original workers have also fallen into age-related disrepair and are unable to maintain the float,” Vadset said. “Enter Xander and his ambitious effort to repair and put the ship back in the parades.”

Siqveland quickly found the project a challenge, organizing a series of volunteer crews, including scouts from his own Troop 166, to help with the work and seeing to it they were safe – including wearing masks due to the coronavirus and maintaining safety around the use of power tools. In addition, he arranged to have individually wrapped food for the crews.

Equally challenging was the boat, affectionately known as Thor.

“It was covered in tarps, spiders and blackberries,” Siqveland said. “It was on an old and brittle trailer, and then the front of the trailer fell off. We had to lift the boat on to sawhorses to get it on a larger trailer.”

The float is secured onto the trailer. (Photo courtesy Jody Siqveland)

After securing it, they were able to transfer the float to the parking lot of his father’s business, the Cogworks in Edmonds, where they had access to all the tools needed to make repairs. They replaced the bow, the stern and side pieces, called stringers, then sanded and varnished the float.

“The main structural work has been done, with the artistic flourishes to come,” Siqveland said. While his part of the project is over, the work continues in its new location, his family’s driveway, with his dad, grandfather and others restoring it to parade readiness, including Thor’s popular smoke-spitting dragon head.

Meanwhile, he’s working on a detailed report to complete his Eagle rank, to be presented to scout officials. “Leadership is harder than I thought,” Siqveland said, “especially managing people because I’m a little shy. I had to be prepared for anything.”

He should also be prepared for some awe-struck kids and delighted grown-ups when Thor next bellows steam. “We hope it’s ready for next year’s May 17 parade in Ballard,” he said.

— By Connie McDougall






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