To make it a proper party, we rented Festhallen (How can you go wrong with a venue named: Party Hall?) in the center of Stavanger, at Folkets Hus (the Peoples House). The Workers Party owns the building and the Party Hall used to be called Lenin Hall and the wall decorations showed scenes of a revolution that thankfully never reached Norway.
Margrethe and I spent the night before the party peeling and chopping up vegetables for the 36 liters of soup that Margrethe and her mother Kirstin would cook up, the next day, in the hours before the party. A few friendly people helped us by making focaccia bread and another group made cakes, so no one would be left wanting. The party itself was a BYOB, so there would be no disappointments in the bar department.
When answers to the invitation started trickling in, it looked promising with 72 committing, but it turned out even better on the actual night, when 90 people showed up. Margrethe and I are big fans of the more the merrier and this definitely proved to be the case here.
After an initial meet and greet of friends and families, many of whom had never met before, we ate a delicious carrot soup, spiced with chili and spiked with orange. My dad opened the floor with a really good speech, aimed at a mix of my 40th birthday (which passed in February) and the sailaway party. After that my brother spoke, followed in rapid succession by Torgeir, Kaare and Margrethe’s club friends. All the speeches were excellent and it was moving to hear so many nice words from good friends.
I held a small briefing, where I talked about Stella Polaris and our planned itinerary. My intention was to keep it as short as possible in order not to bore people to death, but surprisingly enough, I got many questions and ended up talking much longer than planned. At the end of my presentation, Kjetil jumped up on stage and gave me a birthday present from a group of my friends: a brand new Helly Hansen sailing jacket. It was a perfect fit and something that will keep my warm, safe and happy when we sail to colder climates.
We also had a Sailaway Quiz on Kahoot, where we tested if people had listened during my presentation and saw how much they knew about us and the countries we’ll be sailing to. Glenn ended up winning the prized Prosecco bottle and held a good thank you speech.
The rest of the evening vanished way too quickly, as we were moving from table to table, and group to group ,trying to talk to as many as possible. When the lights came on and we cleared out of the room, 7 hours had passed in a flash … It had been awesome … It was a superb way to see all our friends and families in one big event. The one lesson I learned: Have big parties more often, because this worked out far better than expected ☺