Ankling to the German Parade / Steuben Day Parade in NYC

Technically, the name of the parade on Saturday is the Steuben Day Parade, but when I first heard about it, some people called it the German Parade.  Both fit.

I’ve been in NYC for three years and I’ve been doing my parade routine for about a year and I was completely unaware it even existed.  But there is such a parade and I did enjoy myself.

I know I’m going to get some criticism for my attitude at the West Indian Day Parade compared with the German Parade.  I cited the lack of enthusiasm in the West Indian parade and there was just about as much enthusiasm at the Steuben parade; but I don’t expect the German’s to be screaming out in joy and I did expect something like that for the West Indians (hey, the Puerto Ricans did and the Dominicans did).  Yet, there were a number of whoops and hollers from the Germans both in the parade and the spectators, plus a fair amount of applause for certain groups like police, military, and firefighters. 

The parade was scheduled to begin at noon.  It was led by the same cops on horses that are at every parade.  While some local church bells were tolling, the parade began.  The marchers began.  Good German efficiency, I guess.  Of course, ten minutes in the whole march ground to a halt for about 10 more minutes, but it was perfectly scheduled after that.

My first picture was taken as I was walking up to the parade at 5th Avenue and 64th Street (it started on 61st).  I was on 63rd and saw a young lady and her mother(?).  She was nicely set up and I had to ask for a picture.  Apparently she’s Miss Suffolk County.  A very nice person who happily posed for me.

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I didn’t see her again until almost the end of the parade…three hours later.  The poor kid had to just wait and pose for the occasional lout like me.  She deserves the first spot in the post.

Anyway, the parade began.  I had walked past a bunch of floats and marchers (and the occasional beauty queen) and was pretty astonished to see that a lot of them had nothing but German text on them, or were primarily written in German.  As I stood on the parade route, the people around me were virtually all German.  They all spoke English, but with some or a lot of accent.  Here’s one of my “neighbors”.

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Toward the beginning of the parade, there was the usual crowd of dignataries.

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Nobody I recognized.  No politicians.  What’s going on?  I don’t understand why the politicians would be ducking this parade.  The crowd wasn’t overwhelming, but it’s a good sized parade.  Ahhh, who cares?

Maybe the sight of German troops walking on Fifth Avenue was too much.

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They also had German cops.

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But, mostly they had old German fashions of all sorts.

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Yep, lots of leiderhosen.

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And there were lots of other sights.

Below is actually one of my favorite points of the parade.  It happened very early.  Let’s just say these guys were TALL.  With the hats, some topped seven feet.  That’s the key and that’s why I liked the display.  The thing I found great is that they didn’t explain who these guys were.  I knew.  Take a look.

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Frederick the Great would recruit the tallest men in his kingdom.  These guys apparently were representing Germany’s greatest leader’s preference in troops.  It’s a little thing, but I got a laugh out of it.

My least favorite part of the parade were a bunch of rude people who crossed the barriers to give themselves a better view.  Especially the two older people on the right of line in the picture below.  Everyone in our area was complaining about it.  I took a lot of pictures during the parade, but a lot of them had to be taken at bad angles because of these two people and the others who followed them out.  New York’s finest ignored them mostly (the cops were about 20 feet to my right).  Twice one cop came up to them and chased them back.  In less than one minute, they had resumed their position.

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There were the occasional cute sights

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The picture below is a little blurry, thank the rude people that I couldn’t get a good shot.

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Actually, I saw a number of people pulling wagons like this.  I don’t know why they had them.  Water?

I took a lot of pictures.  A lot.  Here are some others.  First, pikemen.

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Some beauty queens.

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Maypole dancers.

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Donald Trump’s casino made an appearance.

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And then the “wild characters” showed up.  They were a real crowd pleaser.

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They started off with marchers with large masks.

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And then they were supplemented with more traditional troll-like characters.

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And then they started in with characters throwing confetti.  One of them came up to me and rubbed purple confetti all over me.  I am still finding it.

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I may be finding it for days.

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Another crowd-pleaser was a group of traditional dancers.  You wouldn’t think of it to look at them, but these are some wild-dancing people.

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They were terrific.  I think they’re going to be hurting in the morning.

There was even a group of Civil War re-enactors.

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Overall, I took over 200 pictures.  Most are different versions of what you’ve seen here.  But there were lots and lots of floats and marching groups that I simply don’t have the time or bandwidth to post.

Overall in the pantheon of Famous Ankle parades, this is a pretty good parade.  The music was good when it was there (and I don’t think any of it was recorded music).  The floats had a lot of people throwing candy to the kids, but it never crossed the barricades so other marchers would sometimes pick it up or some of the people on the other side of the barricade would get it (some parents lifted their children into the street for that, in fact).

-H

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12 Comments on “Ankling to the German Parade / Steuben Day Parade in NYC”

  1. Andrea Says:

    i am in 1 or 2 of these photos and i want u to relize we live normal lives and are just like u its jsut we are very proud of our heritage
    =]

  2. famousankles Says:

    Andrea,
    Thanks for dropping by. Actually, I very much appreciate the sharing of your heritage in the parade. I review parades with an eye toward how people want to show off their culture and their talents, plus how people receive that message. And I very much enjoyed the parade, as I think my post shows (with the exception of the people who kept blocking my view!!!).

    If you read my other posts, you’ll see I went to three parades over the weekend (plus a protest march and the Feast of San Gennaro that I’ll be posting over the next couple of days). One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend was the older dancers that broke into a folk dance (cited in the above post). They showed a feature of your culture that was a delight and you can be rightly proud.

    And I’m still finding confetti!

  3. ELLEN Says:

    GREAT PHOTOS!

  4. Karl Says:

    What a great overview from an outsider’s perspective. As someone who has marched in this parade several times and unfortunately did not have the opportunity to this year (going to college in Indiana), reading this brought back many good memories.

    A couple of details that might interest you. The photo you labeled “German Cops” are actually German firefighters, as signified by the word “Feuerwehr” on their banner. Also, the next two photos of people in Revolutionary War era dress are probably commemorating the birthdate of the parade’s namesake, Baron von Steuben, a German general who drilled the Continental Army (under George Washington) at Valley Forge.

  5. the-vison Says:

    You bring a special note of attention to the older dancers that broke out into a folk dance…. I saw them and their group perform too. A close friend of mine, who passed away several years ago (Agnes de Mille) once told us that the beauty of a culture comes from its dance. This older couple showed a BURST OF ENERGY and I can agree with you and they win the top prize for showing what their sacred culture and their heart and soul is all about. Did you see that this couple also had a large group of children dancing with smiling faces also? It is obvious that they have taught their children well becasue they have a future. I remain touched that you brough attention to them too. Does anyone know how to contact this couple?


  6. […] Protest March in NYC On Saturday, I was leaving my apartment to go to the Steuben Day Parade and saw a long line of marchers dressed mostly in green coming down 2nd Avenue and then turning west […]

  7. to the-vision Says:

    the couple you are writing about belong to a club featured at http://www.bavariandancers.com

  8. to famous ankles Says:

    we are also still finding Karnivale Konfetti 😉

  9. Marie Hugel Says:

    Several days after the Parade we left to go to the Oktoberfest In Munich. Our daughter, who lives in Michigan, emailed this article to me. We are proud of our heritage and would be happy to be in contact with you.

  10. Martin Kroher Says:

    The German “Cops” are firefighters, btw., in all probability voluntary.


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