The 2012 Syttende Mai Parade offered a full two-hours of entertainment for young and old. CLICK ON IMAGE TO START SLIDESHOW.
Vikings, gnomes, and pirates - the Syttende Mai Parade had it all
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People claimed the best viewing spots as early as 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 17th, to ensure they wouldn't miss anything of the annual Syttende Mai Parade, one of the largest ethnic parades in the U.S.
The Ballard festivities in recognition of Norwegian Constitution Day are the largest outside of Norway, and thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Ballard for the 123-year tradition.
With over 100 units, the parade provided on-watchers with a full two-hour long steam of variety and entertainment including marching bands, pirates, gnomes, princesses, unicyclists, and even clowns.
While the parade may be the highlight of the day, Syttende Mai activities took place all day in Ballard.
There were free kids crafts at the Nordic Heritage Museum as well as fjord horses, live musical performances at Bergen Place, and food and beverages to be had at the Leif Erikson Lodge.
“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.
Now in her second year as parade chair, Ellinsgen said 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, but the parade moved along seemingly without a glitch.
New this year was 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 Seattle Police Motorcycle Drill Team kicked things off at 6 p.m., leading the parade from Adams School south to Market Street and eastward toward Bergen Place before turning right onto 22nd and south down Ballard Avenue.
This year's parade emcees were local radio personalities Tim Hunter and Dori Monson.
The 2012 grand marshal was Consul General of Norway Sten Arne Rosnes, and honorary marshals were Kaare Ness and Sissel Peterson.
"The honorary marshals are usually locals of Norwegian descent who are instrumental in the community," said Kae.
Kaare Ness is a true self-made businessman and a pioneer of the modern fishing industry in Alaska. He co-founded Trident Seafoods, and is also a founding director (emeritus) of Viking Bank.
Sissel Almaas Peterson is a musician, and organizer of Tre Norske. She's been a member of the Norwegian Ladies Chorus for 30 years, has volunteered at the Nordic Heritage Museum since it first opened, and is a life member of the Sons of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge.
Ellingsen said planning the parade is a year-long commitment as there are permits, the city, and insurance to deal with, and the committee will start planning next year's parade as soon as they have recovered from Thursday's activities.
Learn more about the 17th of May festivities at http://www.17thofmay.org.
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