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Who will be Miss German-America 2013?
Hundreds of thousands watched and cheered just a few days ago, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated and her son, Willem-Alexander, accepted the throne of this tiny European country. In just two short weeks, another Queen will face the end of her reign: Kirsten Mueller, Queen of the 2012 German-American Steuben Parade and Miss German-America. While her office holds no political power - much like being Queen of the Netherlands - the reigning Steuben Parade Queen is much celebrated by her constituents: Americans of German descent throughout and beyond the tri-state area.
On Sunday, May 19, the German-American Committee will crown a new Miss German-America - who will it be? Six young ladies are in the running for this honorary position and could soon lead the Steuben Parade Court: Stefani Kraker, a 20 year old student from Mahopac, NY; Kristina Kren, a 24 year old graduate residing in Astoria, NY; Pavlina Schriel, age 19, of Norwalk, CT; the 22 year old Kristin Newcomer, of Andover, NJ; Linda Hildenbrand, a 25 year old graduate from Brooklyn, NY; and Danielle Nowara, a 22 year old graduate from Middletown, NJ.
Members and friends of the German-American community can watch the Crowning of Miss German-America live at the Bierhaus NYC and even vote for their favorite candidate. Tickets are now available, and the excitement is growing. "Promoting the German American culture, language and friendship is extremely important to me," says 2012 Steuben Parade Queen Kirsten Mueller. "As Miss German America, it has been my honor to represent such a vibrant and passionate group of German Americans."
Her predecessors also remember the time of their respective reigns with fondness: "I loved being Miss German-America because I was able to showcase my German-American pride and spread the word about my culture and how influential it has been to this country," says 2011 Steuben Parade Queen Denise Manukian. She adds: "My greatest experience as Miss German-America was not only "floating" down 5th Ave at the Steuben Parade, but also going to Germany for Karneval and taking my role as ambassador for the Steuben Parade to the next level." Indeed, "being on the Queen's court is one of the best ways to spend a summer," says 2010 Steuben Parade Queen Stephanie Russell-Kraft, calling in from her home in Berlin, where she currently attends Humboldt University. "Being Miss German-America allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people in the German-American community." As for her single greatest experience, she adds: "Ringing the Closing Bell at the New York Stock Exchange with all of the Steuben Parade officials was surreal!" - Not only for Stephanie, one might add, but also for the NYSE: Wall Street saw a considerable bounce that day, as had been the case every single time the Steuben Parade Committee rang the bell.
Aside from the yet-to-be-crowned Queen of the 2013 Steuben Parade, two princesses are in for an exciting year representing German-American culture at dozens of events in the tri-state area. The court will be completed by a pair of Junior Princesses and a Junior general, all of whom will be introduced at the Crowning Ceremony on Sunday, May 19. Get your tickets now. Here is a closer look at the candidates:
Stefani Kraker is a 20-year-old student at Pace University pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with Teaching and Bilingual Certification. She is a member of the Pforzheimer Honor's College as well as a member of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and is fluent in German. Stefani's Miss German-America application reads: "Ich bin und werde immer stolz sein auf meine Herkunft." Stefani is from Mahopac, NY. In her free time, she enjoys folk dancing as a member of the Schuhplattler group SVV Original Enzian, she also enjoys reading, drawing and plays the steel drums.
Kristina Kren, a resident of Astoria, NY, is a 24-year-old graduate of Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She studied Spanish and French and attended the German American Language School in Ridgewood, NY as well as the German School of Connecticut. Kristina took the American Association of Teacher's of German (AATG) exam and received her Sprachdiplom. Her hobbies include dancing and skiing. Kristina serves on the Advisory Board of the Edelweiss Ski Club and holds an executive office in that organization. Kristina was a Junior Princess of the Steuben Parade in 1998.
Pavlina Schriel, age 19, of Norwalk, CT, is a member of the Class of 2016 at the Steinhardt School for Music Education at New York University. She grew up visiting her Omama and Opapa in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Through her involvement in the German School of Connecticut and the YMCA of Norwalk, CT, Pavlina coordinated a trip for a German Christian youth group from the YMCA in Nürnberg to travel to the Connecticut area in summer. This effort included finding host families and establishing an itinerary for the group to spend one week in the US. Pavlina is experienced as a Children's Supervisor at the New York City Ballet and has been active with the Girl Scouts of CT. Her hobbies include teaching private music lessons, volunteering, and attending local theater performances.
Kristin Newcomer, of Andover, NJ, is a 22-year-old senior scheduled to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University. Kristin attended the German Language School of Morris County in Morristown, New Jersey. She continued her education of the German language in high school where she graduated in 2009 as Foreign Language Student of the Year, with membership in the Delta Epsilon Phi National German Honor Society. At Rutgers, Kirsten continued to pursue a minor in German, which culminated with acceptance into a year-long study-abroad program at Universität Konstanz in Germany. Kristin says: "Living in Konstanz for a year was the most incredible experience I have ever had."
Linda Hildenbrand is a 25-year-old graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, International Relations from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. She is currently in her last semester as a Masters student of French at Brooklyn College. "In college, I had been given the opportunity to study abroad in France for a semester. The first opportunity I was given, I spent two weeks traveling through Germany, meeting with my distant relatives, and was for the first time able to see the beautiful country that my family was from." Upon her return from that trip, Linda's interest in her German heritage was renewed and she began learning German on her own. Linda joined the New York City German Language Meetup group where she continues to learn German and partakes in various cultural activities. Linda's hobbies include Linguistics (she speaks French, Spanish, German & Italian), anthropology, politics, soccer, rock climbing, sewing, cooking and hula-hooping.