Brass bands and a great parade had heralded my own arrival in Oslo, Norway's unpretentious seat of government, cultural capital, and largest industrial center and port. It was Constitution Day, May 17, the anniversary of Norway's proclaimed independence in 1814 after nearly four centuries of Danish rule.
Every last one of the capital's nearly half million inhabitants seemed to be lining Karl Johansgate, Oslo's abbreviated version of Fifth Avenue or the Champs Elysées. A blizard of red-white-and-blue flags fluttered as school children by the thousands marched toward Slottsparken - the Palace Park - for benevolent royal review. Many teen-agers wore scarlet caps and joked and pranced in ragged ranks like half-broken colts; they were the russ, students anticipating a traditional month of merriment and hijinks now that their secondary schooling was almost over.
"It is like a happy children's crusade, ikke sant-is it not so?" An elderly spectator beside me at the curb had taken me, correctly for an Austrian. "Look at them," he said with almost peternal pride. "No soldiers, no guns. No old war veterans with faces. Just children!"
National Geographic, July 1971