Thousands enjoy sunny Syttende Mai parade

Beautiful costumes, a restored Viking ship, marching bands and Norwegian Fjord horses were among the attractions at this year’s 17th of May parade in Ballard. Thousands of people enjoyed the historic festivities in perfect weather.

Of course, the traditional Norwegian costumes, called bunads, are always a crowd favorite. We talked with one couple who are longtime parade marchers. While they were warm in their wool sweaters today, it wasn’t as hot as last year when the mercury hit 88 degrees. “We’ll suffer for the 17th of May,” they exclaimed. “We’ll do anything for the 17th of May!” Syttende Mai celebrates the day in 1814 when Norway’s constitution was signed.

And the kids, as always, were adorable.

After the parade, we talked to Heidi Larsen who walked with her 11-week-old, Elsa. Heidi has been in the parade since she was Elsa’s age, and she says that marching today is important to “celebrate our heritage and introduce her to it.”

The Nordic Heritage Museum unveiled the Nordic Spirit, the newly-restored 200-year-old replica of a Viking ship. The ship had been sitting in storage until the museum and Pacific Fishermen Shipyard carefully restored the vessel. The Nordic Spirit will also participate in the Alaskan Yukon Pacific Exposition this summer, and it will be put on display at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

Several thousand people lined Market St. and 24th Ave. to watch the hour and a half celebration. Over 100 groups participated in the parade, but the Ballard High School band did not participate this year. According to one of the organizers, they’re at Disneyland playing in a parade down there.

But a big crowd favorite was the Hellvik Mannskor mens choir, which had flown in from Norway. As they marched, many spectators joined in song. This year’s Grand Marshal was Norwegian Ambassador Wegger Christian Strommen (who was seen snacking at Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods after the parade.)

Besides chasing all the candy, the kids loved to watch the Norwegian Fjord Horses. One of the oldest breeds on earth, the horses were on display earlier today at the Nordic Heritage Museum.

And Norwegians can’t have all the fun. The Swedish Pancake Drill Team entertained the crowd with all sorts of patented pancake moves, including the toss, which frequently landed on the pavement. Click through below for a few more photos, and we’ve posted a ton more on My Ballard’s Facebook page here. Plus, My Ballard reader Nina posted her photos here.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

15 thoughts to “Thousands enjoy sunny Syttende Mai parade”

  1. It was such a great day–perfect weather, happy people and a parade–who could ask for more? I'll be posting my photos to flickr later tonight. Did you catch the Mustang in the Chevy Car Club section? :~)

  2. Thanks for the beautiful photos ninaf.
    I didn't go to the parade but I did take my daughter to see the Fjord horses at the Nordic Heritage Museum. They are really beautiful horses. My husband took our daughter to the parade and she came home talking all about the candy that was thrown and the candy that a viking gave her “… but don't worry, Mom, he was not a real viking, just a man in a viking costume.” Good to know.

  3. This event is one thing about Ballard that's still great (OK, not everything in Ballard sucks now).

    A great event that's still completely authentic, real Ballard, and fun.

  4. Actually, although I think everyone liked the fjord horses, I believe the single most popular guy in the parade was the fellow with the cart and shovel who followed behind the horses and cleaned up what they left behind in the street. That guy got a LOT of applause.

    Now, if we could just hire him to follow the bums around the neighborhood and do a similar job…

  5. We took a close look at the ship in the Museum parking lot before the parade. It really showed well up close…and sun was cooking the tar on those wood planks! I didn't stop to think about it being a replica, but it makes sense I guess.

  6. Exactly!!! They are one of the best parts of the parade. Despite the above posts, many people were disappointed with this year's parade. No motorcycles, a shorter parade, and a low turn-out in most areas.

Leave a Reply