Syttende Mai Ventures Out of Hillcrest to Fergus Falls

I had to ask them how to say it because I was saying it wrong. May 17th--Norway’s Independence Day or Syttende Mai is a big day for some of our students. Our 26 Danielson students dressed in their best and paraded down Vernon Avenue waving the little red, white and blue flags of their country. As they walked, they sang. People who lived along their parade route came outside to talk to them or wave.

“One little lady was so excited and so happy to see us, it made me cry,” said one student.

I joined the Norskies, as we lovingly call them, at the Viking Cafe for lunch. We took up several back booths and tables and created a bit of a stir among the regulars. I talked at length with those at my table to hear about what their families and friends were doing on this same day back in Norway.

“No, school--no businesses are open today,” I was told. “If you have young kids in elementary grades, you go to their school for kind of like a carnival,” one girl said. There are games like sack races and relays involving potatoes balanced on spoons. “There are prizes and lots of free stuff,” grinned another. One student said her family traditions is to begin the day by having breakfast with one set of grandparents and ending the day at the other. A traditional food in the evening is Rømmegrøt, a type of pudding made with sour cream. The rest of the day, the students say they stuff themselves with hot dogs, little cakes, and ice cream.

As we finished our meal and gathered around the register to pay for the food, the Norwegians began to sing their National Anthem to the packed restaurant. Conversations at the individual tables died down and all eyes turned to watch them. I watched them, too, with shining eyes. I couldn’t understand a word they were singing, but I felt so proud of these gracious, sweet teenagers. When the song was finished, everyone in the building cheered and applauded. Many came to the front to greet and speak with those who provided this spontaneous entertainment. Norway came to Fergus Falls today and blessed so many.

Anyone who would like to meet the Norwegian students and hear them sing can do so tonight at Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 102 W Junius Avenue. They will perform following a traditional meatball dinner served by the church. Cost is $14 for adults and they begin serving at 4:30-7 PM