A History of the Danish Vennelyst Park in North Omaha

The Danish Vennelyst Park history goes beyond weddings, picnics and parties. It is one of the few remnants of Omaha’s once-thriving Danish immigrant community.

Danish Vennelyst Park, 9100 N 31st St, Omaha, Nebraska 68112

The Vennelyst was a horticultural society started in Denmark in the 1890s. Danes were one of the larger European ethnic groups in Omaha, and today Omaha has the forth largest concentration of people claiming Danish background of cities in the U.S.

 

Vennelyst Park, Florence, North Omaha, Nebraska
This is an article from the July 3, 1934 Omaha World-Herald announcing the opening celebration at the Danish Vennelyst Park in Florence.

 

In 1934, a fraternal group called the Danish Venneforening opened a 21-acre picnic spot in Florence with a massive dance floor and a crowd of 20,000 people on July 4th. A 20-acre park covered in woods, it is located in Florence at 9100 N 31st Street.

Keeping in line with its heritage, the Danish Venneforening held celebrations for Denmark’s Constitution Day, called Grunlobsdag, annually for many years. The Danish Sisterhood and the Danish Brotherhood organizations also held regular picnics at the park into the 1950s. Other organizations met at the park too, including businesses, unions, work associations, and a variety of clubs. In addition to the Danish Sisterhood and Brotherhood, some of the other Danish organizations in Omaha that met at Vennelyst Park included the Danish-American League, Danish Assembly, Danish Venneforening, Dennebrog Lodge, Dagmar Rebekah Lodge, Danish Sewing Circle, Klubben Dania, Danish Ladies’ Aid Society, and the Danish Lutheran Church. Neighborhood clubs, schools and other groups met there too.

 

Vennelyst Park, Florence, North Omaha, Nebraska
A 1935 picture of girls of Danish descent demonstrating calisthenics, led by Folkvar Knudson at the Grundlovsfest.

 

A new clubhouse was built in 1970, and the access road led to the park from North 30th Street.

In the mid-1970s, there was a fight between the Danish Venneforening and the Nebraska State Department of Roads over the access road to the park. When the argument entered the courts, it was revealed that the Danish Venneforening planned to build a senior retirement home in the park. They ended up winning the road case, with a new entrance from North 31st Street instead of leading up from McKinley Drive.

 

Vennelyst Park pavilion, Florence, North Omaha, Nebraska
The pavilion at the Danish Vennelyst Park in Florence.

 

Today, the Danish American Society of Omaha operates the park, and it is used primarily as a rental hall. Named the Danish Vennelyst Park, the grounds and the hall are kept in good condition.

 

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Author: Adam Fletcher

I'm a writer and speaker who teaches people about engaging people. I specialize in youth engagement in communities, at home and through education. Learn more at adamfletcher.net

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