Rain doesn’t dampen Brooklyn spirits
New York’s 17th of May festivities a success in Brooklyn
By Roy Jorgensen
Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
The actual Syttende Mai was a beautiful, sunny day in New York. In Manhattan, on 52nd Street where the Norsk Sjømannskirken is located, the street was closed to traffic so that celebrants could parade with bunad, band and Hellvik Mens Chorus and enjoy refreshments their at tables right out on 52 St. Later, there were entertainments inside the church building itself.
The same evening many societies celebrated the constitution at various sites around the city. Among them was Nansen Lodge, Sons of Norway on Staten Island. Guests were treated to a wonderful smørgåsbord and music in a festive atmosphere. Dancing in bunad under crystal chandeliers at the Nansen Hall looks quite inviting. The finale with 17. Mai kranskake was part of the tradition here.
Saturday brought some rain and clouds to Owls Head Park (Bliss Park) in Brooklyn where the Viking Festival took place and in spite of the bad weather, many people came out to celebrate Syttnede Mai.
There were many exhibitors, including Doris Jensen with her fine rosemaling, and displays of Norwegian items that are often sought after and now a days not so easy to find in one’s own neighborhood. Nordic Delicatessen offered Norwegian waffles, laupskaus, and smørbrød including to på benken.
The festival was organized by Victoria Hofmo of Scandinavian East Coast Museum with collaboration of community organizations and has been taking place for several years. The Viking ship and re-enactors were on site to explain Viking history. The festival is open to everyone and does include the cultures of other nationalities during the event so one may hear stories and poetry from Asia and Africa as well as Scandinavia; however, Norwegian culture is quite evident.
The actual day of the Norway Day Parade was less lucky weather-wise. But, the dreary day did not dampen the spirits, only the umbrellas and the rain gear. The pre-parade brunch organized by the Brooklyn Norwegians of Facebook and held at the Salty Dog on Third Avenue was a first and very successful event. The chef at Salty Dog turned out a fine American buffet breakfast which all enjoyed. The group that gathered was friendly and welcoming to everyone. Among the guests were people of New York, the surrounding states and even from Tennesee and California, as well as Hurum and Vanse in Norway.
The brunch lasted until the 61st Annual Syttende Mai Parade started passing by. The parade was well filled with music to keep the spirit and mood high. Interspersed throughout the parade groups were the bands from NYPD, FYPD and other official New York City departments, many of which had pipers. Then, there were the Vanse Brass Band, the Lister Trekkspillklubb, and Helvik Mannskor all from Norway, all of which added a special flavor to the “tog.” A new group in the parade for the first time was the Junior Lodge of Sons of Norway, Fredheim Lodge, from Staten Island. The parade watchers were graced with the presence of Amy Lindland, Miss Norway of Greater New York, Miss Sweden of Greater New York and Miss Lister from Kvinesdal, Norway who came especially for the parade.
The parade ended in Leif Ericsson Park where this year’s main speaker was Rune Edvardsen from Norway. He is the director of the Dina Foundation which provides relief to victims of war and natural disasters (More information at www.dinafoundation.com). As the group dispersed from the park, people made their way to one of the many venues in Brooklyn to celebrate some more. Many churches hold celebrations, as do the Scandinavian Sports clubs.
The Danish Athletic Club was a full house and the partiers were treated to the music of Smørgåsbandet for the afternoon. The menu for the day included fiskepudding med reker, kjøttkaker, lapskaus, and riskrem and caramel pudding for dessert. It was a fun way to end the day, although, folks at our table were headed to the Gjøa Club for more celebration!
This article originally appeared in the June 7, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.