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TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2010

Ballard's Norwegian Community, Washington, USA

Just across the border - in Washington State, USA - is a whole new world to explore with vibrant communities to experience and enjoy. One such community is in the region of Ballard, not far from Downtown Seattle which is a predominant Norwegian neighbourhood. Enjoy walks through the colourful houses that mimic the ones found along the fjords in Norway, try a tasty treat in a bakery or deli, visit the Nordic Heritage Museum or be awed by the two story concrete troll which is located under the Aurora Street bridge. Come experience Seattle's Norwegian history!

Celebrate Seattle's Norwegian Heritage at the Syttendai Mai (17th of May) celebrations and parade!Our neighbour to the South, Washington State, has plenty of interesting things to do all year round, however, May is a particularly important month to one specific community which is located just outside of Downtown Seattle in The two story tall Freemont Troll underneath the Aurora Bride in
Ballard, Washington is an interesting sight which ties into Norwegian
folklore.Ballard (map).

Norwegians have lived in Washington State since the 1880s and were once the largest ethnic group, utilizing skills such as fishing, woodworking and logging to carve a name for themselves in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, a landscape reminiscent of their homeland. This community still thrives in Seattle and is easily identifiable as the homes in the area are brightly coloured The Nordic Heritage Museum is full of interesting exhibits
following the arrival of the Norwegians in the region, their work in
fishing and lumber and other interesting tidbits.and wooden, much like the ones in Norway.

As in Norway, May 17th has a special significance in the community as it celebrates the adoption of the country's constitution in 1814. To Norwegians it is known as "Grunnlovsdag" (Constitution Day) or is more commonly known as "Syttende Mai" (which translates to 17th of May). In Seattle, the celebration is marked with ethnic food, children's games, speeches and a parade. Traditional Scandinavian clothing is also worn to celebrate. The May 17th Parade has been a Ballard, Washington tradition since 1889 and today involves traditional clothing, flags, community groups and bands marching together.

If you can't make it on the 17th of May in Seattle, check out some of the interesting locales in the neighbourhood such as the Nordic Heritage Museum (map), take a walk along the streets to see the beautiful multi-coloured wooden homes found throughout Ballard, stop at one of the many cafes, shops and bakeries (pick up some delicious cheese, fish, deserts or delicacies as well as books, gifts and other wares just down the street), or take a drive to see the impressive two story tall Freemont Troll (which has a life sized Volkswagen Beetle under its hand!) which lives underneath the Aurora Bridge at the aptly named cross street of North 36th Street and Troll (map).

Here are some photos from our trip down to the Olympic Peninsula and of the 2010 Syttende Mai festivities in Ballard, WA: LINK

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