New crown means new legacy for coming kings

Sara Weinreis

After 30 years of trading out plastic crowns, the Viking Days committee said goodbye to the toy-like crowns and welcomed a new metal crown for the king of Viking Days.

While many are aware that the Homecoming Court received a new crown this year, few can tell the story of the old.

Prior to 1982, no king was crowned during Viking Days. There was always a queen,  with five to six women in court each accompanied by an escort.

The split from the matriarch came on October 6, 1982, when Mark Backman claimed the crown and the role of the college’s first king. Backman reigned that year with queen Becky Hatch.

A plastic crown was used and has been traded out with other plastic crowns for decades since.

“The old crown was plastic and it looked like something you would get at Burger King,” student activities director Jeff Venekamp said.  “Something that your kids would play with.”

It was Venekamp who initiated the search for the new crown.

“This summer Sanna [Horsley] and I went about finding a crown that was more befitting of the king.”

The queen’s crown, a gift  from Norway, has been passed down since 1939, as inscribed  for every queen to see.

The new crown is not from Norway, but was instead purchased for $100 from to model Norwegian tradition.

“It [the crown] matches the queen’s crown and looks much classier,” Viking Days co-chair Kristina Johnson said.

Horsley, also Viking Days co-chair and who chose the crown, agreed.

“The queen’s crown is quite beautiful, and has such a great story about how it came to be at Augie, and the king’s crown was a cheap plastic one we had just picked up from somewhere,” she said.

Previous kings, according to Venekamp, often mocked the former crown.

“I think it was

who said, ‘Now you get to wear the Burger King crown for a week.” Venekamp said, too, that the jewels on the crown were even glued on.

Some could say the ‘cheap plastic’ was part of the college’s history, but to others the quality of the crown isn’t nearly as important as the ceremonies themselves.

Dylan West, reigning homecoming king, said it never even crossed his mind that he would be the first one to wear the new crown. “I am the first person to wear the new crown and that in itself is quite an honor.”

Although the metal crown came with a higher price tag than plastic, West said that “it’s a small price to pay for future generations.”

West was happy with the new crown, but commented that he would not be wearing it to class.

“The crown fit great,” he said. “I was a little worried it might be a bit big but I got it figured out and I am ready to rock the crown.”

Horsley echoed the sentiment on behalf of the committee.

“The Viking Days committee hopes that all future Homecoming kings will take pride in wearing the [new] crown and look back on it as a memento of their four years at Augie.”

The final resting place for the old Homecoming crown is uncertain, but Venekamp joked that it would lie forever in the “Top Secret Augustana Royalty Vault.”