By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 17th of May Parade in Bay Ridge, an event celebrating the heritage of the neighborhood’s small but proud Norwegian-American community, will get off on the right foot, according to organizers, who held a party on Dec. 2 to raise funds for next spring's march.
Led by Parade Chairman Arlene Bakke Rutuelo, the group held a fundraiser at the Salty Dog bar on Third Avenue.
“It went really well. We had a good crowd. We raised a couple of thousand dollars,” Bakke Rutuelo said. “I was a little worried beforehand about holding a fundraiser on a Sunday, when everyone wants to watch football. But it worked out. The bar had TVs on and people were able to have fun at our party and enjoy the games at the same time!” she said.
The 17th of May Parade, sponsored by the Norwegian-American Parade Committee of Greater New York, Inc., is held every year in Bay Ridge to mark the anniversary of the signing of the constitution of Norway. The march traditionally takes place on the Sunday closest to the date of May 17.
The 61st Annual 17th of May Parade will be held on Sunday, May 19, 2013, on Third Avenue, starting at 1:30 p.m.
The parade dates back to a time, in the 1950s, when Bay Ridge boasted a large Norwegian-American community, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. In those years, the parade took place on Eighth Avenue, which was then the hub of Scandinavian life in Bay Ridge. Over the years, Bay Ridge residents of Norwegian descent have been moving out of the community. Today, there are only a few hundred. But many of those who moved away come back to Brooklyn for the big parade. Dozens of church groups, Sons of Norway lodges, and school children march in the parade.
In a little cross-parade pollinating, Frankie Marra, chairman of the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Parade, showed up on Sunday to wish Bakke Rutuelo luck. The St. Patrick’s Parade is scheduled to take place in March on Third Avenue. “I was so happy top see Frankie,” Bakke Rutuelo said. “It’s nice to have cooperation between the parades. We want to work together. We might even look into sharing some of the costs between us,” she said.
A portion of the proceeds raised at the party will be donated to organizations working to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, Bakke Rutuelo said.
For more information on the parade, visit www.May17ParadeNY.com.