It is such an honor to preside over the Norwegian American 17th of May Parade Committee of Greater New York. We have a wonderful committee who work all year long preparing for parade day while they continue to plan for the future. The community joins together to watch us celebrate Constitution Day. It is a day when everyone can “be Norwegian.” Come and join us on parade day and the many activities and events we celebrate throughout the year.
Our theme this year is “Saluting Norwegian Immigrants” and we will be marching on May 15th on 3rd Avenue ending at Leif Eriksson Park. Come and join us for a wonderful afternoon.
It has been recognized that the Vikings did arrive in North America back in the 10th century. From Erik the Red, to Leif Eriksson, to the lesser known explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni. It is even suggested that his wife Gudrid, gave birth to be the first European baby boy born in while exploring in North America. In 1960, researchers discovered the remains of a Viking encampment in Newfoundland dating to the year 1000. There was a mass exodus of families from Norway which began in the early 19th century. Thousands of Norwegians settled in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Many moved westward to Illinois, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and other states in the mid-west. They were seeking land and their own farms to raise their families. It was said the pioneers thought the landscape was very familiar to their home back in Norway. The fisherman and sailors settled on both the east and the west coasts. They built towns with churches, hospitals, children’s home and were a proud people taking care of their own.
We still have Norwegian travelers who come to the USA to learn trades. Actors, musicians, architects, engineers, all enhance our cities. When you cross the George Washington Bridge or go through a tunnel. Think of the Norwegian builders who worked to provide travelers a safer route into New York City and the boroughs.
There are more than 4.5 million people of Norwegian ancestry in the U.S. today. Of these, approximately 3 million claim 'Norwegian' as their sole or primary ancestry. Norwegian-Americans actively celebrate and maintain their heritage in many ways. Much of it centers on their Lutheran religion and their culinary customs (e.g., lutefisk and lefse), costumes (bunad), and Norwegian holidays (Syttende Mai, May 17th) are popular.
Barbara Berntsen, General Chair
ODE TO THE 2015 PARADE by Barbara Berntsen
I welcome you all here at DAC tonight,
To express my thanks and to invite,
In a celebration of our recent fan-fair,
It’s an honor for me to be General Chair.
As a committee we’ve worked hours and hours,
And hoped for good weather from up above powers,
Preparing the best parade each person can view,
To show them what the Norwegians can do.
Our co-chairs worked faithfully to bring,
Their groups or lodges to march in the spring,
They will contact each with something to tell,
Of our ways and means items we have to sell.
Our board members are ready to lend a hand,
At the activities and fund raiders we have planned,
Acquiring success for the gains we’d receive,
Paying all our expenses is the goal to achieve.
And surely you members of our committee,
Are as important as those elected and me,
You have a vital role some large or some small,
From the bottom of my heart thanks one and all.
To those who for years have given their time,
Watching over decisions and every spent dime,
Your dedication even now continues to impress,
To guarantee our parade is still a success.
I look around this room we have mentors galore,
Of former general chairs that we do adore,
Seeing Arlene and Ken and Evald and Gail,
We’ll follow your example then we cannot fail.
We gathered here at DAC to discuss the end,
Of our 2015 parade before we begin,
To launch our ideas for next year,
And give our admirers a reason to cheer.
Hip Hip Hurrah for Syttende Mai.