Viking Fest and 17th of May Parade 2014

Viking Fest and 17th of May Parade pull off two-day neighborhood takeover

Brooklyn Daily
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Photo gallery

Leading the Nor-way: The 17th of May parade committee chairwoman Arlene Rutuelo and her cohorts organized and marched in the procession.
Flag day: Kilt-clad marchers carried the colors of the old country and the new world.
All in the family: Generations of Ridgites showed their pride in the neighborhood’s Nordic heritage.
Blondes having fun: Lily Adamo, Anikka Adamo, and Makenna Larsen look on at the parade.
Scandi-navy-a: Imitation longships rolled down Third Avenue.
Lil’ pillagers: Vikings Leif and Noah Westberg hang out with fortune teller Eileen Coles-Valkire.
Viking colors: Karen Sture waves a Norwegian flag at Viking Fest.
Mead master: Sydeny Van’Nort dressed as a 14th-century Viking merchant.
Valkyrie: Corinne Hall shows off her skald-style ink.
Baby raiders: Molly, Tim and Alison Higgins all were Vikings for a day.
Storm of steel: Viking warriors clashed in Owl’s Head Park on May 17.

This ain’t the History Channel, folks!

Vikings marauded through Bay Ridge over the weekend, first striking in Owl’s Head Park on May 17, and the following day along Third Avenue.

The invasion’s planners hailed the two-day raid as a massive success.

“I thought it was outstanding. I don’t think we’ve had this size turnout in many years,” said Arlene Rutuelo, chairwoman of the 17th of May Parade committee, which this year marked the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution.

Hundreds first poured into the park at 68th Street and Colonial Road for historically accurate re-enactments of ancient Nordic life — including a folk band from Norway and no shortage of swordplay. Then on Sunday, thousands lined Third Avenue to cheer on rolling longships and marching bands.

Invaders journeyed from far and wide to reach the Ridge, with some voyaging from South Carolina, North Dakota, and even Norway itself to take part in the revelry of conquest.

“Every year we try to keep Bay Ridge a destination, with Viking Fest and with the parade,” said Rutuelo.

The two-pronged attack was also an opportunity for Scandinavians to introduce Brooklyn to their traditions — which have roots in the borough stretching back to the 1890s, when thousands of Scandinavians emigrated into Sunset Park. Many of those Norwegians moved up to Bay Ridge by the mid-20th Century.

“It’s an important event because we get to celebrate and educate about our culture,” said Viking Fest organizer Victoria Hofmo. “We get to talk about the Vikings in a different way. It’s not just about raping and pillaging.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the 17th of May Parade held in Bay Ridge on May 18 marked the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, not Norway's independence, which came about 109 years ago in 1905 when Sweden's King Oscar II renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne, dissolving the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway.
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