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German-American Steuben Parade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The German-American Steuben Parade is an annual parade held in various cities across the United States. The New York City parade is held every third Saturday in September. It was founded in 1957 by German-American immigrants who, being part of the largest ethnic group in the United States, wanted to keep the traditions of their homeland alive. The Philadelphia parade, founded in 1970, is normally held every fourth Saturday in September.

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History

The first Steuben Parade was held in the Ridgewood section of Queens, where many German immigrants lived. Over the years, as the event grew bigger and drew an ever larger number of spectators, the parade was moved to Fifth Avenue. To this day it starts at 64th Street moving uptown to 86th Street. The parade finale on 86th Street has a special meaning for German-Americans, as that street and the entire Yorkville neighborhood was home to many German immigrants between the first half of the 20th century until the 1970s. The neighborhood's most important street - 86th Street - was lovingly called "Sauerkraut Boulevard" and hosted many German-American establishments, ranging from coffee shops and restaurants to dance halls.

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Von Steuben and the Parade

The parade was named by its founders after Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian-born General who served under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Von Steuben is still regarded as one of the most important German Americans, as his training of the young American troops made victory against the British possible and thus his work helped in gaining independence for the United States of America.

A German Guggenmusik band performs at the Steuben Parade in New York

Every year the German-American Steuben Parade is led by cadets representing the German Language Club of the Military Academy of West Point, which was founded by General von Steuben. However, it is not a parade in the military tradition. The rest of the about three hour long parade is dominated by traditional German brass music groups and marching bands, by clubs and organization wearing traditional German Tracht, as well as by carnival groups, marksmen or representatives of other traditions. For many years, the parade has had a strong Bavarian theme, dominated by men wearing Lederhosen, women in Dirndl and groups dancing the traditional Schuhplattler. Recently though, the parade opened up to represent more German themes.

Grand Marshal and Guest of Honor

Every year, the German-American Steuben Parade is led by one or more Grand Marshals, who are either American citizens with a German background or German citizens with a distinct relationship to America.

The Grand Marshals in 2008 will be Hollywood star Ralf Müller, NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer and Col. Gail Halvorsen, the "Candy-Bomber" from the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift. The German state of Hesse will be the official partner state of the 2008 Steuben Parade.

In 2007, celebrating the 50th Anniversary German-American Steuben Parade, the Grand Marshal was former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who was born in the Franconia region of Bavaria in Germany. The Guest of Honor was Dr. Klaus Scharioth, the German Ambassador to the United States. Also invited was former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who is known to have a deep personal friendship towards America. In many speeches throughout his career, Kohl mentioned how grateful he was when, as a hungry school boy in post-war Germany, he received food from American GIs. However, Kohl had to cancel his appearance because of health reasons.

Over the years the Steuben Parade has had many distinguished Germans and Americans leading it. Former Grand Marshals were Donald Trump, Siegfried & Roy, George Steinbrenner, Carol Alt, Eric Braeden, John Roland, Louis Freeh, as well as many politicians without a personal German background but a great appreciation of the German culture. Among those were Michael Bloomberg, Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki.

Among the Guests of Honor have been three German presidents: Walter Scheel, Richard von Weizsäcker and Johannes Rau, as well as other dignitaries from the political and economic fields, including state prime ministers Erwin Teufel, Kurt Biedenkopf and Bernhard Vogel.

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Parade events

While the German-American Steuben Parade itself is held on the third Saturday in September, starting at noon, there are other festivities all weekend. Usually, up to 35 music and costume groups from overseas are greeted at City Hall Park on the Friday preceding the parade. On the eve of the parade a gala benefit banquet is held at the New York Hilton Hotel and Towers.

The parade itself leads directly to the German-American Friendship Party in Central Park. This is the largest beer fest in New York, featuring many German brands on tap, as well as traditional German food such as bratwurst.

Organization

The parade and all related events are organized by the German-American Steuben Parade Committee. Since 2005, the Committee has been led by General Chairman Lars Halter, and two Vice Chairmen, Geraldine Brand, and Herb Seeff. The membership of the Committee consists of representatives of a multitude of German-American organizations from the New York metropolitan area, some involved in the founding of the parade in 1957.

The parade and all related events are organized by the German-American Steuben Parade Committee. In 2005, Mr. William Hetzler stepped down from the General Chairmanship of the German-American Steuben Parade after fifteen years at the helm. Since then, the Committee has been led by General Chairman Lars Halter, and two Vice Chairs, Geraldine Brand, and Herb Seeff. The membership of the committee consists of representatives of German-American organizations from the New York metropolitan area, some involved in the founding of the parade in 1957.

More Informations: http://www.germanparadenyc.org/

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