Next Up…

After a brief bask in the glow of my annual April Fool’s video for National Gullible Day, it’s time to move on to my next big project.

I really should look into smaller tasks.

What with the pandemic making events like luncheons and parades uncertain possibilities, next up on my ever-growing to-do list is taking on a virtual 17th of May celebration for Seattle’s own 17th of May Committee.

For those new to the party, the 17th of May is the day that the Norwegian community here in Ballard celebrates “Constitution Day.” A big deal in Norway, with lots of parades. In Seattle, we have been celebrating the occasion for over 100 years. In fact, that annual stroll down 24th and then a left turn on Market Street is the first Seafair-sanctioned parade of the Parade Season. You’ll also see it referred to as “Syttende Mai”, which due to my absorption into that community, I’ve become really good at spelling.

In a “normal” year (remember those?), there would be a luncheon at either the Leif Erikson Lodge, the Nordic museum or both, then after some live performances in Bergen Place Park all day long, the official parade would step off around 4pm. Or 6pm. It depends on whether the holiday falls on a weekend or not.

This year marks our second non-normal 17th of May in a row. So, the committee asked me to produce a virtual 17th of May luncheon at noon on the big day. The event is free if you’d like to tune in to the 17th of May Committee’s YouTube Channel. It’ll make its broadcast debut at noon that day. Afterwards, you’ll then be able to watch it whenever you want on that channel.

Tuesday of this week, I headed down to the Nordic Museum in Ballard to film some of the traditional festivities. I’ve got a couple of other folks grabbing footage and in no time at all, I’ll have a bunch of video to edit and assemble before May 17th. Right now, I’m feeling really good about it. Actually, having done the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce‘s virtual Julebord last year, I pretty much know what needs to be done.

Some special guests you may

recognize without their masks

The jury is still out on whether they’re going to try and organize a car parade down Market Street, although a group of us organized one last year to keep the streak alive.

So yeah, here comes the next big project. I’m producing a virtual 17th of May celebration, in-between my many other duties. That’s my self-chosen life. I just like things being busy. I wonder where that came from?

For funsies, here’s my brother-in-law, Kris Templin, warming up for his performance of “God Bless America” with me playing my mouth trumpet.

OK, break’s over. Back to work.

Sure. It’s work.

Tim Hunter

The Norwegian Tradition Continues

Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood has long been a gathering place for Scandinavians, particularly Norwegians.  Through the 1800’s, people in Norway heard about this place called America and how this spot on the west coast felt similar to their homeland, while also full of opportunity.

To this day, lots of fishing fleets are based in Ballard. The TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” brought it into our living rooms. The area became known as, “Snoose Junction.” The biggest party of the year is always “Seafoodfest”, with three days of bands, crafts and lots of seafood.

But this year is different, as you know. Seafoodfest has been officially scrapped for this year, while other traditions are being postponed with a hope of rescheduling. But there’s only one 17th of May and this year, the annual Syttende Mai parade through downtown Ballard was canceled.

For us, we had turned the celebration into a two-day affair, grabbing a room at the Hotel Ballard and living there for a couple of days. There was a big luncheon at noon, followed by assorted happy hours and then, the 17th of May Parade that marched down 24th, and made a left on Market Street. For the past 7 years, I’ve had the honor of announcing the parade from the official grandstand.

Again, this year was different and the parade, the luncheon, the singing at Bergen Place, all canceled. That meant a 130-year-old tradition was at risk. I mean, c’mon, they even marched over a century ago during the Spanish Flu outbreak. Of course, that could have been what fueled that Second Wave we keep hearing about.

One day, I thought, “What if a few of us got together, maintaining our social distance, and put on a Syttende Mai parade of our own?”  I passed the idea along to a few members of the community and the next thing you know, we had a plan.

We had to walk a fine line because, in accordance with the Governor’s orders, there were to be no gatherings.  The official parade organizers wanted nothing to do with this, because they didn’t want to risk losing their official Seafair-sanctioned status. So, we kept it to a handful of people, who dressed up and, at the exact time the big parade would have stepped off, we began down the route in our cars, wearing masks and honking our horns.

But rather than telling you, why don’t I show you exactly what happened.

The streak remained intact. The tradition continued.

And if even for a couple of hours on that pandemic Sunday afternoon, the spirit of Syttende Mai lived on.

Skål.

Tim Hunter

Here We Go Again

I’m not Norwegian. But I married into it. And that’s OK.

As we approach another 17th of May (Norwegian Constitution Day), we’ll be doing the traditional stay in the Ballard Hotel for two nights, attending the big luncheon, stopping by the Leif Erikson Lodge, I will announce the parade while Victoria marches in it and so on.

It’s an all-out celebration of Norwegian heritage and good for them. But they are WAY more concerned about where their parts came from than I am. I’m a rag-tag collection of ethnicities from around the globe.  In fact, here’s what 23andme.com had to say about my make-up:

Yep, that’s what it takes to create your very own Tim Hunter. It was me before you knew that, it’s still me after you read that data. A lot of Northern European, with a splash of Eastern European that I surmise resulted from some relative’s wild weekend away.

Heritage is nice to know. Some people embrace it, while others like me say, “Eh, good to know.”

Who we are is the result of what we’ve been, our experiences, our influences. In other words, we have existed.

I look at my life’s journey and I’m extremely appreciative and happy for everything. Oh, that’s not to say there were pretty rough spots along the way, but everything resulted in my present being, in who I am today and all things considered, I’ll take it.

This summer, we’re heading to Scotland to visit the town where my dad was born, I look forward to feeling a closer connection to those roots. However, I will still be this Tim Hunter guy I’ve become.

And I’m really liking that.

Tim Hunter

 

Syttende Mai to you, too!

MJ & Me

MJ & Me

It’s Syttende Mai Eve.  Do you open your aquavit on Syttende Mai Eve or Syttende Mai morning?

For the non-Nordic types reading this, the world in which I find myself these days is heavy on the Norwegian side and every 17th of May is a big deal. It’s Syttende Mai, or for those of us without Google translator handy, Norwegian Constitution Day.

And so?

Well, in Seattle, in the Nordic suburb of Ballard, Norwegians near and far gather to celebrate day.  This year, being on a Saturday, promises to be quite the celebration.

What makes the 2014 edition even more special is that it’s the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution and the 125th year of the parade in Seattle!  In fact, our Syttende Mai parade is the largest in the U.S. and second only to one held in Norway.  The size of the parade actually rivals the annual Seafair Torchlight Parade.

However, while there are marching bands and drill teams, V.I.P.’s and such the bulk of the parade is filled with Norwegians and their various groups from all over the area.  Sons of Norway lodges, Daughters of Norway, the chorus groups, the clubs…they’ll be there marching through Ballard, rain or shine, starting at 6pm.  For the third year in a row, I have the honor of being one of the parade announcers, along with Ballard resident and Q13 weather goddess, M.J. McDermott.

The day begins with Mayor Ed Murray making an appearance at Bergen Place Park at 10am to kick off the day.  There’s a sold-out lunch with VIP’s at the Leif Erikson Lodge and then various happy hours throughout Ballard to get the marchers ready for the big event.

So, if see people running around on Saturday dressed up in their Norwegian outfits, now you’ll know why.  If you want to blend in, say something like, “Nice bunad!” (BOO-nod) or, “Hurrah for Syttende Mai!” (sitten-de-MY) and you’ll probably be asked to join one of their organizations!

Remember, all the Norwegians are IN the parade, so if you’d like to help make up the crowd, it steps off at 6pm.

Tim Hunter