Shouting From The Rooftops
Midnight on Saturday is when President Ewert Ljusberg of Jämtland makes his annual address to the region, an occasion that’s been marked by some imaginative and spectacular entrances.
In 1996 he rode in on a seven-ton elephant, which was making a guest appearance while en route from a Spanish to a Swedish circus, but he topped that in ’99, when he tried to float down in a huge air balloon.
He missed the main 20,000-capacity square at Ostersund (where the event is traditionally held), got snaffled on a nearby building and ended up shouting his state of the union address from the rooftop.
This year, he’s planning to sail into the city across the great lake that borders it, on the back of a model of the huge monster that lives beneath its waters.
The monster in the lake, similar to the world-famous one that’s supposed to be swimming around in Loch Ness in Scotland, is the subject of remarkable tales that the locals spin for visiting tourists.
Even more remarkably, the tourists seem to swallow the stories hook, line and sinker and spend hours poised on the lake shore – camera in hand – waiting for a ripple on the surface.
The annual event, which is the biggest city festival in Sweden, started in the ’60s as the locals tried to show some solid community spirit in the face of a poor economy that saw most youngsters travel south – mainly to Stockholm – to get work.
It fell apart in the ’70s when organisers threw in the towel and moved south themselves, but was revived in the ’80s because a few people started drifting back and – as press officer Stefan Kauppi explains – “wanted something to do.”
Apart from President Ljusberg’s annual message about freedom, humanity and solidarity, there will also be appearances from Jamie Cullum, The Cardigans, Hacienda Brothers, Paradise Lost, Ronnie Spector, and Sonora Universal.