Sun comes out for annual Syttende Mai Parade

By Jeet Gauswami

After eight hours of festivities for Norwegian Constitution Day at the Nordic Museum, Bergen Park, and Leif Erikson Hall, people took to the streets of Old Ballard on Friday for the annual Syttende Mai Parade.

The parade featured 94 different participants, including marching bands, dancing groups, non-profits, and different Scandinavian characters.

The Norwegian 17th of May Committee has been sponsoring and arranging Syttende Mai annually since 1889. Seattle hosts the largest celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day outside of Norway, according to the Norwegian embassy.

“We have been preparing for today since September,” said Laura Hanson, who is a secretary for the 17th of May committee.

This year’s Syttende Mai [Soot-n-duh My] parade Grand Marshall was former Norwegian Minister of Transportation and Communication Ketlik Solvik-Olsen. Solvik-Olsen spearheaded the parade after the Seattle Police Motorcycle Drill Team showed their precision on motorcycles with sharp turns and eye-staggering formations.

“Nordic representation and population in Seattle has always been on an upswing,” said Lisa Bergman, an on-air personality for KING FM 98.1. “For the past 20 years, Syttende Mai has been growing big in terms of festivities and attendance.” Bergman is also a founder and previous Artistic Director of the Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series presented at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle.

Parade watchers did not leave an inch of open curbside on either side of the street. Norwegian descendants were wearing their traditional ‘bunad’ dresses. Children were waving Norwegian flags while waiting for parade participants to hand out candy.

The parade also featured high school marching bands from Wenatchee and Vancouver, and bystanders appreciated jubilant performers with cheers of “Hipp, Hipp, Hurra!” Everyone was awestruck when a group of more than 100 unicyclists from Whittier Elementary School cruised down the street.

2 thoughts to “Sun comes out for annual Syttende Mai Parade”

  1. I just wish the city would work better to accommodate the mass influx of people on May 17th. What a joke it is to sit and watch EVERYBODY attempt to all arrive at the same time and negotiate Ballard. I realize it’s just 1 day, but things are NOT well thought out, and transit must become an option. That and or simply make some streets 1 way with traffic cops ensuring sanity. Sanity for residents trying to live their lives. Same with the seafood fest; people all think they’re the only ones going 40 up my street looking for THAT spot. And don’t give me guff, grandma came from Bergen in 1889 and I still live in her house, and live her dream. Ya sure U betcha

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