Tuesday, September 22, 2009

German-American Steuben Parade in NYC

We have been going to the city almost every weekend since last month (we would usually only head over there maybe once a month or so). This weekend was no different. There were so many big festivals going on at the same time that we had some trouble deciding which one to go to. There was the ever so popular 52nd Annual German-American Steuben Parade along 5th Ave & Oktoberfest in Central Park, the Italian Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, the Great Irish Fair in Coney Island as well as some other smaller Greek and Indian festivals all over NY/NJ. I just love living in the big city, there is always something happening, no matter when or what time of the day it is. After giving it some thought, we decided to checkout the Steuben Parade. After all, Kevin is part German (mother's side), so we must celebrate the German pride by drinking a few beers and maybe eating a bratwurst or two :P

The German-American Steuben Parade is an annual parade that is held in various cities across America. 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 parade in New York City is the largest one out of all and it's usually held on the 3rd Saturday in September.

The parade starts at 64st St, moving uptown along 5th Avenue and ends on 86th St. 86th Street holds 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 St) was lovingly called "Sauerkraut Boulevard" and hosted many German-American establishments, ranging from coffee shops and restaurants to dance halls.

The three hour long parade features traditional German brass music groups and marching bands, all kinds of floats, members from German clubs and organization wearing traditional costumes, as well as carnival groups, marksmen or representatives of other traditions. Here is a video that we took of one of the marching bands and as well as a video of a float from the parade.

There was a festive atmosphere along 5th Ave that day. A lot of people were dressed in traditional German costumes (spectators, not those in the parade) and many people were also spotted holding tiny German and American flags. A lot of German companies were also actively involved in the parade. Here is Kevin with Mercedes-Benz's new 2010 line up. Of course Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Porsche were also there with their line up.

Below are more photos from the parade. All the kids were just so cute, all decked out in their traditional costumes, looking like Hansel and Gretel :P Look at the little guys in the photos, that's what Kevin looked like as a kid (I should post up some pics to show you folks).

We didn't stay for the whole 3 hours (how much floats, marching bands and people marching by in traditional costumes can one take? :P). We headed to Central Park to check out the Oktoberfest celebration at the Summer Stage area. Before we headed out there, we managed to just walk around the park and take some photos. It was such a nice day and the park was just filled with people, relaxing and enjoying the day.

When we arrived at the Summer Stage area, we were told that there were no more tickets available and that we should have pre-booked online! Man...what a bummer. Of course we could wait in line and as the crowd thins, we will be able to get some tickets later on. At that point, there were about 200 people in line, just waiting to get in. As much as we would like to get in, we decided that it's not worth the wait (even though we were pretty bummed that we couldn't get into the largest beerfest in NYC!). I guess the beer, bratwurst, pork knuckles, pretzels and sauerkraut will just have to with til next year! Since we didn't get a chance to eat some good German food, we decided to head downtown to Little Italy to the San Gennaro Festival for some Italian street food! More about that in the next post!! :D

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