The 2018 MCV Syttende Mai Celebration at Two Rivers Park on Saturday, May 19, was full of surprises for all in attendance. It was a hot day at 91 degrees, a good breeze was blowing at the park. Table cloths were spread. Coolers were packed with Ice Cream and toppings. A birthday cake, cookies, salted mixed nuts, cheese and crackers and many selections of fresh fruit were ready for later. The American and Norwegian flags were posted. There were about 13 folks in attendance by 1:30 pm.
It was time to start the Syttende Mai Norwegian Flag Parade from the Two Rivers Park shelter to the Pedestrian Bridge. Oscar carried one large Norwegian flag and the other MCV members walked with smaller hand Norwegian flags. It was a lovely one half mile walk to the beautiful suspension bridge over the Cumberland River. Evelyn’s Norwegian Flag umbrella was useful for keeping the sun off several who needed shade on the walk and on the bridge.
Karen Kennedy and her daughter were surprised by cousin Nancy Jeglum Call and her friend from California who met us on the bridge. Karen had told them we would be celebrating Syttende Mai and invited them to attend. The ladies from San Jose, CA, were delightful to talk to and they enjoyed watching the General Jackson arrive and go under the bridge back to home port at Opryland.
When the General Jackson was just below us, we could see the happy faces on the passengers, as we waved our flags with enthusiasm, and shouted “Hooray. Hooray for Syttende Mai.” The showboat captain gave us two blasts on the horn and that made us smile and wave even more.
On the walk back to the shelter, a car of young folks slowed and passed Sharon and Evelyn, and shouted, "Welcome to America.” That made Evelyn’s Day, as she is from Norway.
Sara Richter and Ken Sersland stayed at the shelter with the food and the Kransekaka provided by Susan Collier. Her friend Lil Tony Ramvik from Norway brought Susan the cake and Susan wanted to share it for the Syttende Mai celebration. Tusen takk to Susan and Tony.
An even bigger surprise awaited as we returned to the shelter, we found attendance had increased. A group of seven Norwegian tourists from Alta, Norway, had found us on Facebook and driven to the park together in a big rented van. Alta is known for views of the Northern Lights, which inspired the cascading architecture of the Northern Lights Cathedral, built in 2013. Check out the MCV Facebook page to read a note from Jens one of the Norwegians from Alta. Three of Oscar’s relatives from East TN joined the group. Oscar’s nieces, Cathy, Janice and her husband, Michael, were in town to visit with Oscar and other family members. The group at the shelter were playing games and having fun talking to one another when the participants in the flag parade returned.
Ken Sersland and his "boom box” led us singing of the Norwegian and American Anthems. Then we sang a popular Norwegian ballad "Take Me Back”, a song about the good old days in Norway by MCV member Ottar "Big Hand” Johansen, who lives in Norway and comes to Nashville several times a year to record and play in Music City.
Diane Acree and Karen Kennedy surprised the Hopwood twins with a birthday cake and magic candles for their birthday on May 19. Everyone sang Happy Birthday and pictures were taken. Tusen takk from Sharon and Sharol for making our 77th birthday special. (And many thanks to them for all their hard work making the celebration so wonderful!)
A happy group of 25 enjoyed the 2018 celebration of Syttende Mai. We consumed as much ice cream and other goodies we could hold. Conversations in both English and Norwegian could be heard as we enjoyed the lovely afternoon together with new and old friends who share a common heritage and love of the Scandinavian way of life.