65th annual Norwegian American Parade to celebrate “Journeying Through 65 Years”

They’re marching on.

Bay Ridge is once again prepping for the annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade.

Now in its 65th year, this Brooklyn fixture continues to be popular as thousands of attendees enjoy several fun opportunities to display their cultural pride.

To celebrate the ongoing tradition, this year’s parade theme is “Journeying Through 65 Years.”

“We are really excited,” said Norwegian American 17th of May Parade Committee of Greater New York Co-Chair Arlene Rutuelo. “We are picking up more groups that are marching this year and myself and Victoria [Hofmo] are always trying to emphasize the fact that it’s a destination. We have a lot of people coming from Norway and from other parts of the United States.”

Rutuelo also noted that the community itself benefits from the historic march. “It’s good for business and our area during the weekend and we are trying to expand it to the week before,” she said. “There are tons of Norway events going on. 17th of May events are happening in local churches. We are growing them and that’s a good thing.”

This year’s guest speaker and Grand Marshall is Jeremy Del Rio, co-founder of Thrive Collection, a nonprofit that creates hope and opportunity through arts and mentoring in public schools.

Rutuelo is pleased to have him participate in the parade. “We’re excited,” she said. “He’s a Bay Ridge guy. His mother is Norwegian. He’s a great speaker and has wonderful history with the multi-generational individuals.”

Del Rio also teaches youth and community development at Alliance and Fuller seminars, as well as mentors youth workers.

The unique nature of the parade is what separates it from others, according to its organizers. “We have a great sense of creativity in our parade,” Rutuelo said. “We do have a marching band and stuff, but the groups that make floats, they create them themselves and it will be interesting to see with they do with the theme this year. It’s unique because there is a creative side to our parade.”

Diversity will also be a key component to this year’s celebration. “It may not be all Norwegians marching in the parade anymore because many of them have died or moved away,” she said. “The neighborhood has changed, but we have a lot of American groups who are civic and just like to march and celebrate with us. We want them to learn about us. Not just Norwegian Day Constitution but also [about] celebrating our culture.”

However, the most important aspect of the parade is showing cultural pride. “The Norwegians show their pride well,” she said. “I think that’s something we can teach the younger generation here and every culture. No matter where you come from you should always be proud of your roots.”

Nobody wants it to rain on their parade, but according to Rutuelo, regardless of the weather, everyone will be ready to party. “We just pray for good weather, but in Norway, they’re used to the rain on the 17th of May,” she said. “Rain or shine, we are still going to march on. Weather is never a factor in the Norwegian day Parade and in Norway they’re such patriots, it doesn’t matter what the elements of the outside are. They’re just proud of their Norwegian heritage.”

Next year Rutuelo plans on taking a different role. “Next year I will step back into the general chair spot,” she said. “I have a lot of things on my agenda for us as a parade committee. My biggest focus is going to be pulling in a younger generation; for them to learn and to be actively involved in this parade. We want this parade to be here for 65 more years so we’re going to do a transitional pull to the younger generation to get them involved.”

The parade line up will take place on Sunday, May 21 at 1:30 p.m. According to Rutuelo, assembly will start on 85th Street and Third Avenue. The marching will begin on 84th Street along the same route of Third Avenue, up to Fifth Avenue and then over to Seventh Avenue and 65th Street.

For more information, visit www.may17paradeny.com.

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