Norway’s National Day snuck up on us this year even though it was on our calendar. We didn’t decide to attend the festivities at Nansen Field until the evening before. The next morning we rallied the troops, dug out our Norwegian flags (and once again remembered we need new ones for next year), and headed down to Rolling Hills Estates, about a 30-minute drive south of Los Angeles.
We arrived just in time. They had just started playing the national anthems and were raising the flags of the United States and Norway. We found a spot next to friends of ours and listened to greetings from Honorary Consul of Norway in Los Angeles, a sermon by the pastor of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro, and the traditional 17th of May speech.
It didn’t take long for Sonny and Doobie to head off to the open soccer goal on the huge empty field. But it also didn’t take long until they were overrun by little kids and their parents and had to abdicate the goal.
Something new to me this year that I really enjoyed and thought added greatly to the festive feel of the day were the musical performances. After the 17th of May speech, I was expecting the parade to get underway. Instead Anina, a Norwegian singer and songwriter, took the stage and sang a couple of songs.
A performance by Fredrik Halland, a Norwegian songwriter, singer, and guitarist, took place after the parade. I learned later that he is actually a songwriter for Justin Bieber. His song “Mark My Words” is the first track on Justin Bieber’s album “Purpose” and is also the song Justin Bieber opens his live shows with on the “Purpose World Tour.” Who knew? Go Norway!
I was impressed by the number of people who had appeared by the time the parade got underway. The parade was longer than I remembered from previous years. I was disappointed that the marching band that had been there in the past wasn’t there this year. There was music playing from speakers, but by the time we got to the other side of the field we couldn’t hear it. A parade needs music. But I loved seeing all the red, white, and blue, the many women and young girls dressed in bunads, and all the Norwegian flags.
As soon as the parade ended, the lines began to form at the food stands. Visitors were eager to get their hot dogs (with bun or lompe!) and hamburgers. Solo, despite the hefty $5 price tag, was a popular item. Even aquavit shots were for sale! I chuckled when I saw the aquavit bottle encased in ice. Ice cream and waffles were also in high demand.
A bouncy castle was on site for the younger kids and children’s games were offered as well. Sonny and Doobie were respectfully forced to join in the games by organizers and they gave it a try, but it turned out to be a bit childish for them. Unfortunately, the games that were of more interest to older kids started as we were heading out. Potato sack racing and short distance races were up next.
The 17th of May festivities at Nansen Field are a great, easygoing way to celebrate Norway. Bring a picnic blanket and beach chairs and you can’t go wrong – unless you forget to bring your sunblock because the sun always seems to come out in full force. It’s not a long, drawn out event. You can enjoy exactly as much as you want and you walk away being proud of your Norwegian heritage.