Bay Ridge’s 17th of May Parade scheduled to return

17th of may parade
A participant dressed as a VIking at the 2017 parade.
File photo by Georgine Benvenuto

The 17th of May is returning to the Bay! 

Bay Ridge’s annual celebration of the signage of the Norwegian constitution on May 17, 1814 will return this year on May 15th — the Sunday before the namesake date of the parade. 

“After waiting patiently for the Pandemic to slowly disappear for the past two years, the whole Norwegian Community is very excited to see the parade return this year,” said Arlene Rutuelo, president and chair of the Norwegian-American 17th of May Committee of Greater New York, Inc, which sponsors the parade each year.

Bay Ridge has held a 17th of May Parade yearly since 1952, sans a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each year, on the Sunday closest to May 17, the former Scandinavian stronghold transforms into a sea of red, white and blue — the colors of the Norwegian flag.

This year will be no different, said Rutuelo, but there will be a special acknowledgment of those lives lost since the borough’s Norwegians last marched: this year’s theme will be “Honoring Our Heroes.”

“As every community, we lost many families members to COVID, and we continue to mourn with those families,” Rutuelo told Brooklyn Paper. “We also want to honor the heroes!”

While celebrations of the Norwegian Constitution day go on all over the word, the Bay Ridge parade is known to be one of the largest, as much of Brooklyn was founded by Norwegian settlers. With its rich history in mind, Rutuelo said, the parade committee’s goal each year is to keep their ancestors’ stories alive, while also celebrating many of the ideals that led to the signage of the Constitution.

Young revelers at a past 17th of May Parade.File photo

“People often ask me, ‘Why are you still hosting the Norwegian Day Parade and why do you march in Brooklyn, there are not many Norwegian left?'” she explained. “I love these type of questions, as it gives me the opportunity to share the truly remarkable history of the Norwegian community that lived here in the past and that helped build New York.”

“Yes, we celebrate Norwegian Independence Day but we also keep our history alive!” she went on.

The procession will begin May 15 at 1:30 pm on Third Avenue at 80th Street, and continues to Bay Ridge Avenue, where it will turn up to Fifth Avenue, and then again onto 67th Street, proceeding alongside Lief Ericson Park until ending at the reviewing stand between Sixth and Seventh avenues. 

A fundraiser for the parade will be held at The Salty Dog on Third Avenue between 75th and 76th streets in Bay Ridge on May 1, where there will be a 50/50 raffle, light refreshments, cash bar and live entertainment. The entrance fee is $20 per person.

“We are supported by the Norwegian community. We raise money doing the annual parade journal and at the fundraiser Salty Dog,” Rutuelo said. “The fundraiser is a fun time to gather the Norwegian and American community together to support the parade.”

Merchandise for the 2022 parade is already on sale on the parade’s website, 17thofmayparadecommittee-brooklyn.org.