Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, will celebrate Syttende Mai, Norway’s “Constitution Day,” Friday, May 17.
The event includes a traditional Children’s Parade and a performance by Decorah’s Nordic Dancers. Museum admission will be free all day, and the museum and store will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Syttende Mai at Vesterheim is sponsored by Jeff and Marilyn Roverud of Decorah and Sons of Norway Valdres Lodge No. 503.
Syttende Mai is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814 at Eidsvoll and Norwegians celebrate with excited crowds—especially children—marching through the streets, waving flags and singing songs.
Gather for the Children’s Parade at 11:45 p.m. at the Winneshiek County Courthouse. The parade begins at 12 p.m. and everyone is invited to march along. The route starts on Main Street in Decorah at the Winneshiek County Courthouse, then travels north along Washington Street to Water Street, then west on Water Street to Mill Street.
At 12:25 p.m. on Mill Street next to the museum there will be a Vesterheim welcome and a Nordic Dancers performance. Visitors will be invited to dance, too.
There will be guided tours of the historic buildings in Vesterheim’s Heritage Park at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
In case of inclement weather, the parade and Nordic Dancers will be canceled.
The Nordic Dancers began in Decorah in 1966 and include two groups of dancers—an older one and a younger one. The dancers begin as third graders and make a 10-year commitment to continue through high school. They perform every year at various area festivals and traveled to Norway in 2016.