It is such an honor to preside over the Norwegian American 17th of May Parade Committee of Greater New York. We have an active 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 for the many activities and events we celebrate throughout the year.
The parade committee represents three groups: the Civic Group, the Church Group, and the Sons of Norway Lodge Group. We elect officers each June at our annual meeting. The Officers are the General Chair, 3 Co-Chairs (1 for each group) and six members of each group who are all part of the Parade Committee Board. Each year the three groups select an Honorary Chair who is a person who represents the good efforts they provide within their specific group. We have a Norwegian Representative, Per Mikalsen, who searches the country to bring a Norwegian Band, Choir, or musician to celebrate with us in the parade.
Our theme this year is “Journeying Through 65 Years” and we will be marching on May 21st down 3rd Avenue ending at Leif Eriksson Park. Come and join us for a wonderful afternoon.
The parades began in 1952 and we have had consecutive parades ever since. Our first Honorary Speaker was Hon. John J. Bennett, Former Attorney General of New York State.
The changing times in Brooklyn, brought us to the realization that we needed to switch to different avenues over the 65 years. We began marching down 8th Avenue in Bay Ridge. At the time it was called Lapskaus Boulevard. After many years the switch to 5th Avenue was necessary. The recent years, we have moved our parade to 3rd Avenue. The Third Avenue Merchant Association has been a great supporter of the parade.
There are more than 4.5 million people of Norwegian ancestry in the U.S. today. 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 the Norwegian holiday Syttende Mai, (May 17th). I welcome you to come and march with me in Brooklyn. Find me at the front of the parade.
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.