David Willard sat in Gov. Mark Dayton’s reception area at the State Capitol on Wednesday and began crying, recalling all the efforts of the Viking World Order over the years to help the team get a new stadium.
“It’s not about the team, trust me,” said Willard, who had gray hair down to his shoulders and was dressed in purple camouflage pants and a Vikings leather jacket. “It’s a way of life, the way I was brought up”. Willard, who lives in Roseville and is a longtime member of the group, said the Viking World Order “wanted me to be a four-star. I said, ‘No, I’ll always be The Colonel.’ “
There are 23 “knighted” members of the Viking World Order, Sam Cooke of Minneapolis explained. A Vikings tattoo, he added, is required – and Cooke lifted the sleeve of his Vikings jersey in the governor’s reception area to show off his own tattoo.
Eight members of the Viking World Order – one sporting a purple Mohawk haircut -- posed for pictures Wednesday morning as Dayton held a press conference on an unrelated topic in an adjoining room.
The goal, said Cooke, is to show Dayton – and anyone else – that the group supports building a new stadium in Ramsey County’s Arden Hills. Their next stop, they said, was the office of Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the Senate author of the stalled stadium legislation.
Mike Halvorson of St. Paul, who stood in Dayton’s reception area with his face painted purple, handed out his own collector card featuring a picture of Halvorson. The card listed him as a “General in the Viking World Order”, and added that his Viking World Order name was “Sir CountryVike.”
“When you hear his roar,” the collector card explained, “follow CountryVike’s lead and we will be victorious.” He told a reporter that he could keep the card.
Later in the day, the Viking World Order waited outside Dayton's office and applauded as Arden Hills city officials walked into the governor's office for a meeting with Dayton. "Thank you very much for your leadership," said Cooke, as the city officials filed past the group.
Afterward, as the colorfully-clad group disassembled, Cooke announced: "The plan is to head to the Colonel's Winnebago for a de-briefing."
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