Bay Ridge celebrates Norwegian heritage at 70th annual 17th of May Parade

Marchers hoist a massive Norwegian flag down Third Avenue during the 70th annual 17th of May Parade in Bay Ridge on Sunday, May 19.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

The streets of Bay Ridge were awash with the colors of the Norwegian flag on Sunday as the community celebrated the annual Norwegian Day Parade.

The parade, now in its 70th year, commemorates the signing of the Norwegian Constitution on May 17, 1814, and pays homage to the neighborhood’s rich Nordic history.

Sunday’s procession kicked off at 1:30 p.m. near the corner of 85th Street and Third Avenue. Revelers then made their way down the thoroughfare, turning up to Fifth Avenue at Bay Ridge Parkway. Celebrants continued to 67th Street, proceeding alongside Leif Ericson Park until ending at the reviewing stand between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Locals went all out for the annual celebration or Norwegian culture.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
Attendees waved both Norwegian and American flags in a show of pride.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Dressed in traditional bunads, participants proudly showcased their Norwegian roots, while floats adorned with Viking ships and scenes from Norwegian history captivated the crowd. Many onlookers waved Norwegian and American flags, celebrating the strong ties between the two countries.

The Norwegian Day Parade, formally known as the 17th of May Parade, takes place each year, rain or shine, on the closest Sunday to the historic date, excluding Mother’s Day. It is organized by the Scandinavian East Coast Museum.

Riding in an antique car with museum founder Victoria Hofmo, former Bay Ridge politician Marty Golden lauded the groundwork local Norwegians laid for the neighborhood.

“Today’s a great day,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s a great day for the Norwegians, they’ve done so much for our community. Lutheran Medical Center (now NYU Langone-Brooklyn), the Norwegian Christian Home & Health Center — they were the ones that started all this stuff. They came together to make things happen for our community.”

Honorable marshals included Josephine and John Beckmann, pictured here with family and friends like Chuck Otey (center).Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
Thomas Smith, board chair of SC Gjoa Youth Soccer Inc. with youngsters and Council Member Justin Brannan.

Members of the 17th of May Parade Committee were joined by Parade Grand Marshal Brian Andersson and Norwegian Consul Signe Engli, among others, at the start of the procession. Miss Norway, Amanda Luzniak and Miss Heritage, Grace Reinertsen also helped lead the parade. The two were crowned earlier this year at a pageant at the Norwegian Christian Home, continuing a 66-year tradition.

Other marchers included first responders, children from various schools and members of local organizations, including the Guild for Exceptional Children, the Norwegian Christian Home, and the Sons of Norway. The Sons of Norway, an organization dedicated to preserving Norwegian heritage, featured members dressed in historical costumes.

Amanda Luzniak, Miss Norway 2024.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
Miss Heritage, Grace Reinertsen.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

As the parade concluded at Leif Ericson Park, festivities continued with a cultural fair. Parade day is preceded each year by Viking Fest, an annual celebration of Scandinavian culture and heritage at Owl’s Head Park.

Four-legged friends also got in on the fun.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta
The parade concluded at Leif Erickson Park.Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

Additional reporting by Arthur de Gaeta