It started like any other Family Fun Day at Alpine Village's Oktoberfest. Kids in tiny dirndls and lederhosen, parents enjoying a Paulaner responsibly, people laughing and relaxing while sharing a mutual love of all things Bavarian. At times it seemed like the ghost of Herman Prey could be heard singing classic German folk songs through the mist — or maybe it was just from car stereos.

Then suddenly, the mood changed, a dark cloud rolled over as Viking invasion ships docked — okay, the only ship there was a birthday cake, and they actually showed up in cars. The Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings, famed invaders of dinning establishments throughout Los Angeles, crashed the festivities, took up cafeteria trays and hit the dining line.

What do you mean you don't accept scraps of leather as payment!

What do you mean you don't accept scraps of leather as payment!

The Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings are a group of Viking enthusiasts who dress in character and plunder hot spots around Los Angeles. They only really plunder food though. It's kind of like a flash mob, if flash mobs were more bad ass, less choreographed and revolved around food. Think of those Capitol One commercials of Vikings running around resorts and Hollywood en masse, that's pretty much exactly what it's like.

They've conquered lands as far south as Long Beach and as far north as San Francisco. They've been known to make stops in public parks, ice cream shops, movie theaters (including the Glendale Galleria to see a screening of Thor), grocery stores and of course Brazilian BBQ — is there anything more fitting for a Viking than meat on skewers?

They're closely affiliated with Sword and Stone in Burbank. The shop founded by master blacksmith Tony Swatton specializes in historical pieces frequently used for television and film. This explains the amazing costuming. (The shop is open to the public on Saturday and by appointment only Monday through Friday.)

Why would the Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings come all the way out to Torrance for some sausage when there are so many sausage places closer to Norse Hollywood? Most of the year Alpine Village is a great place to watch a soccer game and buy hard-to-find imported candies and groceries, but maybe not something worth rounding up the raiding parties for. However, for the last 44 years, come September and October they offer one of the largest and most famous Oktoberfests in America.

Oktoberfest party masters Hanz and Gretel, realizing that resistance was futile, embraced the Nordic visitors. They threw on the traditional head gear and brought their new Scandinavian BFF's onstage for the chicken dance.

According to the Vikings we spoke with, they started invading local establishments a little over a year ago, with Tony Swatton frequently leading the march. Many members are also part of a similar pirate themed group, for some this was their first time out with the Vikings.

The current band at Alpine Village is a group from Bavaria. You can see them play every Thursday through Sunday. They've played all over the world, but say Los Angeles is one of their favorite spots. According to them, we're bigger partiers come Oktoberfest than most other destinations. Way to go L.A. Take a bow.

LA Weekly