Bay Ridge’s own Norwegian Constitution Day Parade took to the streets for the 65th year on Sunday, May 21 in celebration of a lot more than just the day’s good weather.
Chock full of culture, the parade – and annual celebration of the 17th of May – is a neighborhood staple, which pays homage to the overwhelming Norwegian population that once made Bay Ridge home.
“We talk about it each year but the weather was just absolutely wonderful this year — a perfect temperature,” lauded Norwegian American 17th of May Parade Committee of Greater New York Co-Chair Arlene Rutuelo.
Even more amazing than the weather, Rutuelo said, was the turnout.
“Each year I’m amazing of the people I learn have come to the neighborhood,” she said, stressing that this year’s parade saw attendees from beyond the borders of Bay Ridge — from Bensonhurst to as far as Texas. “I’m really pleased with the number of diverse groups coming to the neighborhood from different areas, as well as the number of diverse groups who come out and enjoy the day that are from here. I’m just so pleased with the amount of people on the sidelines and those who marched this year.”
The widespread appreciation of Norwegian culture touches Rutuelo personally.
“Coming down [Bay Ridge Avenue] is always special for me,” she said. “Seeing the children of other cultures that are on the sidelines or waving at marchers from their windows is so wonderful. It’s so encouraging when you get to see them experience and appreciate another culture. That’s an incredible thing and kind of where our focus has been. It’s really about reaching each other and learning about one another’s cultures.”
In commemoration of a milestone anniversary, this year’s parade theme was “Journeying Through 65 Years.”
This year’s guest speaker and grand marshal was Jeremy Del Rio, co-founder of Thrive Collection, a nonprofit that creates hope and opportunity through arts and mentoring in public schools. Del Rio — “a Bay Ridge guy,” according to Rutuelo, whose mother is of Norwegian descent — also teaches youth and community development at Alliance and Fuller seminars, as well as mentoring youth workers.
The event stepped off at the corner of 80th Street and Third Avenue at 1:30 p.m.. The celebration then made its way up to Fifth Avenue (turning right on Third at Bay Ridge Avenue) and over to 67th Street, where marchers made a right en route to Leif Ericson Park.
For more information on the parade, visit www.may17paradeny.com.