German-American Steuben Parade

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A group in Bavarian Tracht marches in the 2006 New York Steuben Parade.

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: 9/21/2013, 9/20/2014, 9/19/2015, and 9/17/2016. It was founded in 1957 by German-American immigrants who, being part of the largest self-reported ancestral 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. The Chicago parade was featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.


The first Steuben Parade was held in the Ridgewood section of Queens. 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, which was called Germantown until well into the 1990s. The parade finale on 86th Street has a special meaning for German-Americans. 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.

Von Steuben and the Parade[edit]

The parade was named by its founders after Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian-born General who served under General George Washington in the American 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[edit]

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 2009 were Congressman Michael McMahon, Fox 5 TV reporter Linda Schmidt, A&P Chairman Christian Haub, and Parade Co-founder Ted Dengler. In previous years, Grand Marshals included Hollywood star Ralf Möller, NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer and Col. Gail Halvorsen, the "Candy-Bomber" from the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift.

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.

Parade VIPs: German Ambassador Dr. Klaus Scharioth, the Mayor of Hamburg, Germany, Ole von Beust, Grand Marshal Carol Alt, General Chairman Lars Halter, and Heinz Buck, President of the German-American Committee of Greater New York

Over the years the Steuben Parade has been led by many distinguished Germans and Americans. Former Grand Marshals were Donald Trump, Siegfried & Roy, George Steinbrenner, Carol Alt, Eric Braeden, John Roland, Louis Freeh, Norbert Schramm, 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.

Parade events[edit]

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.

Miss German-America[edit]

Each May, the German-American Steuben Parade Committee crowns a Miss German-America, who serves as Queen of the Steuben Day Parade in September. She is selected on the basis of her German-American heritage and her knowledge of German culture, and is expected to promote the parade and its events and numerous German festivals throughout the New York region each summer. Past winners include: Nicole Radske[1] (2006), Christina Rom[2] (2007), Melissa Gratzl[3] (2008), Virginia Kovak[4] (2009), Stephanie Russell-Kraft[5] (2010), Denise Manukian[6] (2011), and most recently, Kirsten Mueller[7] (2012).

German-American Friendship Month[edit]

September is host to many German and German-American cultural events aside from the parade. They range from a reading with German comedian Hape Kerkeling, concerts in Carnegie Hall to Jazz performances by German musicians, from a pop-art event with Berlin and New York based artist Jim Avignon to a German cartoon exhibition. There are also events celebrating the historic aspect of German-American traditions, like a walking tour through Little Germany Kleindeutschland on New York's Lower East Side or a tour through the Tenement Museum there.


The cornflower is the official flower and logo of the German-American Steuben Parade in New York

The cornflower is the official flower and the logo of the German-American Steuben Parade of New York City, as it widely grows in both Germany and the United States. Also, the color blue symbolizes friendship and hope. In addition the Cornflower was the national Flower of Prussia since its introduction by Kaiser Wilhelm I to honor his mother Queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and because of its color (prussian blue)


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 Steuben Parade is overseen by the German-American Committee of Greater New York, a non-for-profit organization registered in New York with 501(c)3 status.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". 2006-09-16. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  2. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  3. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  4. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  5. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  6. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". 2011-09-17. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  7. ^ "German-American Steuben Parade of New York". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′28″N 73°57′56″W / 40.77444°N 73.96556°W / 40.77444; -73.96556