About the Parade
The German-American Steuben Parade has been a highlight in New York City's calendar of festivities for many years. Founded by German clubs in Queens in the 1950s the Parade grew into the biggest and most colorful celebration of German heritage and culture in the world. The Parade is attended by thousands of marchers and viewed by hundreds of thousands of spectators alongside the world renowned Fifth Avenue.
The purpose of the Parade
The Parade's goal is to provide the American public in general and our civic leaders in particular with a reminder of the part played by German immigrants and their descendants in the development of the United States of America. Today, we are proud of the achievements of hundreds of German-Americans, who shaped their new country.
About notable German immigrants
Among the earliest German settlers in America was Franz Daniel Pastorius. Born 1651 in Sommerhausen, he was the leader of thirteen Quaker families who emigrated into the New World. He founded Germantown, Pennsylvania, and was its first mayor and schoolmaster.
Conrad Weiser was born in Herrenberg and came to America with his parents in 1709. He was sent to the Mohawk Indians for two years and learned their language. He later served as a translator and negotiator when the new settlers bought land from the Indians.
Heinrich Melchior Muhlenberg, (pictured right) a Lutheran clergymen who is viewed as the founder of the Lutheran Church in the United States. Born 1711 in Einbeck, he came to Pennsylvania in 1742. He married Anna Maria Weiser, daughter of Conrad Weiser. Their son Frederick Muhlenberg later served as the first Speaker of the House in the US Congress.
Born in 1697 in the Palatinate region of Germany, John Peter Zenger came to America as a teenager. He became a journalist and publisher of the New York Weekly Journal. His open criticism of William Cosby, Governor of the New York colony, drew the ire of the Attorney General. Zenger was sued for libel, but unexpectedly won his trial after the jury found that his published accusations were based on facts. Today, Zenger is seen as the father of the Freedom of Press.
One of the best known German-Americans is Carl Schurz. Born 1829 in Liblar near Cologne, Schurz emigrated to the US in 1856 and found a home in Watertown, Wisconsin. Schurz campaigned for Abraham Lincoln and became one of his trusted advisors. He was later appointed Secretary of the Interior by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Throughout his life in politics, Schurz held up moral integrity and often crossed party lines to search for bipartisan solutions. He had a strong connection to the immigrant community. At the Chicago World Fair in 1893 he told his fellow immigrants: I have always been in favor of a healthy Americanization, but that does not mean a complete disavow all of our German heritage. Our character should take on the best of that which is American, and combine it with the best of that which is German. By doing this, we can best serve the American people and their civilization.
German-Americans shaped the political landscape in their country, notably President Dwight D. Eisenhower and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. There are famous entrepreneurs like Johann August Roebling, the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, or Heinrich Steinweg, whose Steinway pianos are famous in concert halls worldwide. Other businessmen include Levi Strauss, Henry J. Heinz and Milton Hershey, or New York developers John Jacob Astor and Donald Trump.
Entertainers with German roots include Doris Day and Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bruce Willis. Furthermore, Ub Iwerks, who invented Mickey Mouse, was a German immigrant, as are Siegfried & Roy, the renowned magicians from Las Vegas.
Other notable German-Americans are scientists Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun, the painter Emanuel Leutze, brewmaster Adolphus Busch and authors Dr. Seuss and Charles Bukowski.
The Parade Symbols
The Symbols of the Steuben Parade are the national flags of both Germany and the United States, as well as the Cornflower. The flags were presented at the first Parade in 1957 by the presidents of each country: Dwight D. Eisenhower for the United States and Theodor Heuss for the Federal Republic of Germany. Every year these flags are carried by the Honor Guard, the American Legion Post of the American Turners, New York. The Cornflower - in German Kornblume - is distributed every year as part of the fund raiser for the Annual Parade, and it also graces Parade Souvenirs from T-Shirts to beer glasses and pins.
Who marches in the Steuben Parade?
The Parade brings together the entire German-American community. Groups include members from social and cultural clubs, sport clubs, religious groups and the masons. Each year, several groups from Germany visit their American friends, among them musical clubs, carnival organizations and Schützen corps.
Financing the Parade
The German-American Steuben Parade is a not-for-profit organization entirely based on donations from the German-American community. Although the Parade does have some corporate sponsors, whose support is highly appreciated, a big part of the contributions come from the clubs and member organizations, who donate generously. Supporters, especially visitors to the Parade and the German-American festivals throughout the season, can also support the Parade with the purchase of the Cornflower or other souvenirs.
For more information about the Parade, if you want to make a donation or be a part of this magnificent Annual event or the German-American Friendship Week in general, please contact:
German-American Steuben Parade Committee
P.O. Box 3386
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10008