The march continues.
For the 64th year, Norwegian Americans will march down the streets of Bay Ridge on Sunday, May 15, to mark Norwegian Constitution Day, celebrated in Norway on May 17. Over 100,000 onlookers are expected to be on hand, spending their afternoon on the streets and sidewalks of the neighborhood.
According to Norwegian American 17th of May Parade Committee of Greater New York Co-Chair Arlene Rutuelo, 2016’s parade theme salutes Norwegian immigrants. Rutuelo noted that, although Norwegians in the area may have dwindled in number, their history and influence within the country has not.
“Each year, we try to point back to the accomplishments the Scandinavians and Norwegians have made in New York,” said Rutuelo. “We have people that come from Norway, the Tri-State area and beyond. Obviously the Scandinavian population has dwindled in the past 30 or 40 years, but we’re not discouraged by that. Between the Viking Fest and the parade, each year we see an increase.
“We’re honoring the people who came here before us,” she added. “In the ‘50s and ‘60s, we were probably one of the top three places in the world that had the most Norwegians. A lot of the effect of their presence is still seen in the architecture, and they’re still felt in things in New York that will be here for a lifetime.”
The parade has become a weekend-long fest thanks to the Viking Fest, to be held this year on Saturday, May 14, which is now in its 16th year. Both the festival and the parade will include an appearance by the Norseman, a half-size Viking ship created by the Leif Ericson Society International.
In addition, various municipality groups and churches will march in the parade, which will also feature a guest appearance by Miss Norway of Greater New York Lene Samuelsen and Miss Heritage of Greater New York Susannah O’Shea. Unlike previous years, however, this year’s parade will not feature visiting bands from Norway. Despite this, local bands will play music during the parade.
“In Norway they celebrate on the day, which is Tuesday, and every year we usually get one or two bands, but being that the 17th is so close to our day, it’s hard for them to turn around and come back again,” said Rutuelo, who urged residents — even those without Norwegian roots — to turn out for the parade.
“We encourage other cultures to come out and celebrate with us,” she said. “We celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, we celebrate other cultures — you don’t have to be Norwegian to watch the parade or be in the parade.”
“I’m really excited to see this year’s parade,” said Scandinavian East Coast Museum President Victoria Hofmo. “People are really committed to continuing the parade. I don’t think people realize how important Norwegians are to the history of this country. They were a big part of a lot of things, from the buildings to tunnels and the shipping industry.”
The parade line up will take place at 12:30 p.m.at 85th Street and Third Avenue, with participants stepping off at 1:30 p.m. The parade will proceed down Third Avenue to Bay Ridge Avenue, where it will turn, continuing to Fifth Avenue, and finally turn onto 67th Street, ending up at the grandstand on the south side of Leif Ericson Park between Sixth and Seventh Avenues where the post-parade ceremonies will take place.