Tuesday, May 21, 2002

My host laughed at me when I told him that it's sick to have the May 17th parade on the 19th - but he was nice enough to come with me to see it. It started right by the subway-stop where we get off, and we hurried one stop north in order to get to the front of the parade. It was an odd experience. Viking-ships and american marching bands, scotttish bagpipers and boyscouts of colours which would only be seen in the Oslo parade, mixed in between banner upon banner fom the "Sons of Norway" groups (their ranks mainly filled with women) from around New York State, and further out. Red, white and blue are familiar colours to Americans, but really... playing "Ja vi elsker" as a march? I appreciate that the band had practiced it though, and played it, even if such things as crescendos and de-crescendoes was beyond them.

There were some odd groups, like dock-workers of Brooklyn... until it dawned on me that THAT particular connection is pretty obvious. This is Bay Ridge, which used to be one of the largest Norwegians settlements outside of Norway - with more Norwegians here than in most Norwegian cities. Their main occupation was in connection to the boat/traffic, both trade and passenger ships. So of course, there would be Norwegians working on the maintainance of the boats - and docks - as well as on the boats themselves. All in all it was a very interesting experience. And there were lots of Norwegian voices, and more blondes than I have ever seen in one place in NYC. There were some fake national costumes, and some really old ones, as well as some splendidly kept and donned ones, silver tinkling and flickering in the May sunlight.

The crowd was different though, silent, serious, hardly waving a flag. And I became the same. I missed the yells of "Hurra for 17 mai!" or the incessant waving in order to catch the attention of somebody in the crowd. The parade ended in Leif Erikson Park, with games and entertainment in the Owlshead Park. I didn't go there... I was done with the 17th, it's not normally a celebration that lingers.

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