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May 18, 2004

17th of May - Constitution Day

Party all Night

norwegian_flag.jpgYesterday was Norways national-day, the 17th of May, celebrating our independence and the creation of our current constitution at Eidsvoll in 1814.
As Brisbane is a city with more than just a few norwegians there were heaps of people attending the more or less traditional celebrations. For many of the norwegians in the Spring Hill / Fortitude Valley area the day started out early with a 17th of May breakfast in the garden at Cathedral Place at 8a.m. After breakfast we all went down to QUT Gardens Point were I belive most of the Norwegians in Brisbane (and some others as well) gathered for the great 17th of May Parade through the city, the largest outside of Norway.

This year Brisbane became the 2nd city in the world outside of Norway to actually stop regular traffic to let our parade pass, but it seemed most of the onlookers were a bit confused about what was going on. It must have been quite a sight for Australians on their way to work on an ordinary monday morning as I recon there were at least 700 people marching through the city of Brisbane, many in suits and dresses or in traditional norwegian clothing ("Bunad"), while singing and cheering, waving norwegian flags and blowing horns and whistles!
It all felt very norwegian to me with the temperature beeing 24 degrees, like a good summers-day in Norway, everyone dressed up and even a few in their high-school graduation overalls ("Russ") running around in the parade and making a ruckus. Some had brought big banners they carried and there even were a few that had prepared lots of candy that they threw into the parade from the balcony of the Port Office Hotel Everything was like like home :-)

The route the parade followed were from QUT's Kidney Lawn along George Street, Elisabeth Street and Edward Street before returning through the Botanical Gardens back to Kidney Lawn. After the parade returned to QUT supplies of beer, ice-cream, norwegian hot-dogs and waffles with brown-cheese was beeing sold while the "Royal-family" (look-a-likes) were waving from the Old Government House balcony. In traditional fashion the official 17th of May speech were then held by the President of the Norwegian Student Klub followed by the singing of the National Anthem. As last year the queues to buy waffles were ridiculously long, a result of huge demand and the inability to round up more than 4 wafflemakers. Also while the wiener-hotdogs served tasted very good, a problem with some of them were making quite a few people sick throughout the day, which was a bit sad for those involved.

In the evening there was a formal dinner held by the Brisbane-board of the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad at the Pavilion in West-End. I'm not certain how many people attended, but the place was packed so it was probably around 400 for dinner. A number that probably doubled after the doors opened for other people later at night. While the dinner itself were a bit dissapointing and most of the entertainment were less than entertaining, the party really took off when Australias best Brass-band arrived to play some classic norwegian songs, amonst them the National Anthem and "Norge i rødt, hvitt og blått". From here on out the party was awesome and I had a absolutely great night!

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