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Bay Ridge Brooklyn Honors Immigrant History: Norwegian Constitution Day Parade

May 17 is Norway's July 4th--Even in Brooklyn


You can celebrate the area’s early Scandinavian roots during the annual Norwegian Constitution Day Parade every year in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The parade culminates with the festive crowning of Miss Norway in Leif Ericson Park.

The event is always held on a weekend in mid-May, close to the date of the Norwegian national holiday, observed on May 17. That's the day when, in 1814, Norway adopted its constitution. Bay Ridge and the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn had a sizable Norwegian population through the 1970s, and so the parade continues to be celebrated.

Why a Norwegian Parade in Brooklyn?

One might well ask, of all the diverse ethnic groups living in Brooklyn, Norwegians are barely visible. So why a Norwegian celebration in Bay Ridge?

The bottom line answer is that Brooklyn was built on immigration.

Bay Ridge and the Sunset Park and other sections of Brooklyn once had a sizable Norwegian immigrant population. Many skilled sailors came to Brooklyn and worked in the dock areas. (See History of Sunset Park, Then & Now to learn about "Little Norway".) There is still a Norwegian Seamen's Church in Brooklyn Heights learn more.

While there are few Norwegian residents and shops left in the area, the parade continues to be celebrated.

The mission statement of the “Norwegian-American 17th May Committee of Greater New York" says, " It is the purpose of the Norwegian-American 17th of May Committee of Greater New York, Inc. to encourage and develop a deep appreciation of the ideals of independence and freedom that the 17th of May and Norway’s Constitution signifies by holding an annual celebratory parade in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, on the Sunday closest or otherwise most appropriate to the 17th of May."

Usual Parade Route

Steps off at 80th street and Third Avenue at 1:30 PM, rain or shine, and proceeds along Third Avenue, turns right at Bay Ridge Ave (69th street) up to Fifth Avenue, makes a left onto Fifth Avenue, marching along Fifth Avenue to 67 street, makes a right on 67 street - marching along the park up to the reviewing stand between 6 and 7th avenue.

For up to date information, see the parade website.

And if you'd like to go to Norway to see it for yourself, you can always fly on Norwegian Air!

Other Things Happening in May

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