With sun in the forecast and 119 oarade units ready to go, Syttende Mai is gearing up to be another great day filled with food, fun, and festivities.
Thousands to converge on Ballard for Syttende Mai festivities
Today is Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) and organizers are ready to entertain people all day long.
Ballard's Syttende Mai activities are the largest outside of Norway and last year, thousands of people converged on downtown Ballard to observe the annual Syttende Mai parade, making it the biggest one yet.
This year, organizers are hoping to repeat the success with 119 parade units to provide on-watchers with a full two-hour long steam of variety and entertainment.
Syttende Mai has been celebrated in the Greater Seattle Area since 1889 and the parade is one of the largest ethnic parades in the United States.
“Syttende Mai a great, full-day of events with lots to eat, see and do,” said Kae Ellingsen, parade chair of the 17th of May committee.
Ellinsgen is in her second year as parade chair and she had a lot to learn after Jim Vatn's passing.
“Jim Vatn did the parade for over 30 years so we’re still learning the ropes,” Ellingsen said, pointing out that the parade took a wrong turn last year though few on-watchers seem to have noticed the mishap.
Planning the parade is a year-long commitment, Ellingsen said, as there are permits, the city, and insurance to deal with.
“Most people don’t know what goes into a parade,” said Ellingsen. “There is definitely a learning curve.”
New this year is the route change.
“We have changed the route a bit from previous years to include Ballard Avenue,” said Ellingsen.”We wanted all the businesses along the Ave to benefit from the visitors.”
The parade starts near Adams School in Ballard at 6 p.m. The route follows south to Market Street and eastward to Bergen Place park, then turns right onto 22nd and continues south down Ballard Avenue and ends at Dock St.
This year's parade emcees are local radio personalities Tim Hunter and Dori Monson. The 2012 grand marshal is Sten Arne Rosnes, and he'll be accompanied by honorary marshals Kaare Ness and Sissel Peterson.
Grand marshall Sten Arne Rosnes has been the Consul General of Norway in San Francisco since 2008. He was educated at the Military Academy Oslo and the University of Oslo where he studied International Relations. He has held positions in the Foreign Service, the Embassy in Bonn, NATO in Brussels, and the UN in New York.
Ellingsen said they're excited to have Rosnes for the festivities and looks forward to his address at the luncheon.
“This is an opportunity for him to actually see and spend time in Ballard,” she said.
Unlike the grand marshall, honorary marshals are usually locals of Norwegian descent who are instrumental in the community.
Honorary marshal Kaare Ness is a true self-made businessman and a pioneer of the modern fishing industry in Alaska. Born in Norway on the island of Karmøy in 1928, he began his fishing career at an early age when World War II interrupted his basic education. The glory days of herring fishing came to an end in Norway due to diminishing stocks, and Ness moved to the United States.
After building his own boat, Ness headed to the wild waters of Alaska to enter the king crab fishing. There he met fisherman Chuck Bundrant, and together in 1973 they co-founded Trident Seafoods. Once settles in Ballard, Ness entered a different industry by becoming a founding director (emeritus) of Viking Bank.
Honorary marshal Sissel Almaas Peterson was born in Haugesund, Norway and immigrated to the U.S. in 1925. She married Axel Peterson in 1945 at Ballard First Lutheran Church and they made their home in Ballard.
A musician, Peterson organized Tre Norske in 2001, along with violinists Juanita Holmes and Megan Eyman, and she's been a member of the Norwegian Ladies Chorus for 30 years. Peterson volunteered at the Nordic Heritage Museum since it first opened, was secretary for the Norse Home Inge Frodesen Guild for 24 years, and is a life member of the Sons of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge.
The parade is the culmination of 17th of May festivities taking place in Ballard throughout the day, here’s a schedule of events for the fun-filled 17th of May:
Barneleker (Children's activities)
10 a.m. – 2 p.m
Nordic Heritage Museum
, 3014 NW 67th St
Children can enjoy easy craft projects at the Nordic Heritage Museum and pet the fjord horses. The crafts are free and children must be accompanied by an adult.
10 a.m – 2 p.m.
Nordic Heritage Museum
, 3014 NW 67th St
Free Museum admission all day. Enjoy Scandinavian food and beverages available for purchase.
noon -2 p.m.
Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th St.
Admission: $30 per person
Tickets available at Leif Erikson Lodge.
Join us for a traditional Norwegian lunch with our Grand Marshal and Honorary Marshals! Special guest entertainment.
Entertainment at Bergen Place
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Intersection of Market St., Leary Ave., and 22nd Ave.
On parade day, there are public performances at Bergen Place featuring a number of acts with Nordic flair:
2:00 - 2.30 p.m.: Brenda Bard and Lori Ann Reinhall
2:30 - 3:00 p.m.: Matt Jorgensen of the Ballard Jazz Festival
3:00 - 3:30 p.m.: Norwegian Male Chorus
3:30 - 4:00 p.m.: Whittier Elementary Choir
4:00 - 4:30 p.m.: Leikarringen of Leif Erickson Lodge
4:30 - 5:00 PM: Bonnie Birch (Accorduba)
Café at Leif Erikson Lodge
3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th St
Food, beverages, wine/beer, pins, programs, flags, and DVDs available for purchase. Local Scandinavian organizations will have promotional material about their groups available.
17th of May Parade
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Come early to save your spot!