Norwegian flags wave at Syttende Mai parade

By Lucia Flores-Wiseman 

The usually quiet streets of Ballard were full of Norwegian flags and shouts of “hipp hipp hurra” yesterday for the annual Syttende Mai parade. 

Yesterday marked the second year the parade returned after a break during Covid.

The parade began at NW 62nd St and 24th Ave NW, passing by local restaurants and shops, ending at Ballard Ave and Ione Place. 

Thousands of people marched with traditional Norwegian clothing, vintage cars draped in Norwegian flags, high school marching bands playing horns, and little kids racing in unicycles.

Seattle has celebrated the Norwegian Constitution Day since 1889, and started the Syttende Mai Parade tradition in 1974. It is the second-largest Norwegian Constitution Day celebration outside of Norway. 

“My mother has been in the Norwegian Ladies Chorus for 55 years,” said parade attendee Jamie Park. Park’s mother, Ragnhild, immigrated from Norway when she was 18. “She has marched in this parade ever since she arrived here.” 

 Grace Lunsford walks in the Syttende parade while holding the Karmøy Club of Washington banner. 

The Park family, along with hundreds of others, sat outside a restaurant to enjoy a meal while watching the parade. 

“It not only celebrates the past of the Norwegian-Scandinavian heritage,” said Park, “but it also celebrates what Ballard is now and what it’s becoming.” 

The Park family poses for a portrait at a table during the Syttende Mai parade in Ballard. 

Linda Delamaza, a member of  Daughters of Norway in Tacoma, borrowed a beautiful bunad, a traditional Norwegian dress, from a friend. “The whole outfit is hers and it fits,” said Delamaza. “I wanted to honor her and march in the parade.”

Delamaza’s great-grandparents immigrated to the Pacific Northwest during a Norwegian immigration influx in the 1880s. Ballard became a Scandinavian settlement for Norwegians while they worked in fishing and maritime industries, built homes, and opened businesses. It wasn’t until 1905 that Norway became fully independent

Linda Delamaza poses for a photo with her daughter after being in the Syttende Mai parade together. 

“There are so many immigrants and fishermen that came from all over Norway into Ballard, so there’s a huge community here,” said parade attendee Grace Lunsford. 

Grace Lunsford poses for a portrait after being a part of the Syttende Mai parade. 

Lunsford has been attending the parade since she was little and realized after Covid how important it is to continue the parade. “I like seeing everyone’s faces when you walk by them and seeing everyone’s reactions.” 

A recording of the parade is available for those who could not attend.