All About the Steuben Parade
Each year on the third weekend of September, The German-American Steuben Parade is held on Manhattan’s famous Fifth Avenue. The Parade is organized by the German-American Steuben Parade Committee in a concerted effort between many German-American Organizations.
The aim and purpose of the Parade is to celebrate the great role played by Germanic immigrants in the development of the United States. The Parade instills in all Americans with roots from German speaking countries a deep-rooted sense of pride and accomplishment.
The most recent census reveals that one in four Americans is of Germanic descent. Some famous German Americans include: Peter Zenger, Father of the Freedom of the Press; Albert Einstein, Scientist; John Roebling, Builder of the Brooklyn Bridge; Werner von Braun, America’s First Space Pioneer!
Leaders in the German-American community were aware that many immigrant groups in the Metropolitan area expressed their pride and heritage with an annual parade. The first ever German-American Steuben Parade was held in 1957 in the predominantly German-American neighborhood of Ridgewood, Queens. The enthusiasm was so overwhelming that on September 20, 1958, just one year later, the Parade was moved from Myrtle Avenue to its current location on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The first New York City Parade lasted two hours, and included floats, bands, and marchers from the local community. Today’s Parade is fully international, over twenty groups from overseas fly to New York exclusively to attend the Parade. Marchers from all over the country, plus civic leaders, singers, dancers and social organizations enthusiastically participate each year!
For over 30 years the Parade was called The Steuben Parade, named after General Fredrick Wilhelm von Steuben, a patriot of the American Revolutionary War, who next to George Washington was instrumental in achieving victory for the Continental Army.
In General von Steuben’s honor, the Parade is usually set on the first Saturday following his birthday of September 17th. For the thirty-fourth annual Parade, the name was changed to “The German-American Steuben Parade” in order to identify it more closely with the German-American Community. The parade is now held on the third Saturday is September.
The continued success of the Parade is due to the dedication and commitment of the many private citizens and affiliated organizations that make up the German-American Community in the tri-state area. Participants include: civic, religious, charitable, social and cultural groups; such as singing societies, sports clubs, fraternal orders, trade unions, folklore and dance groups. In addition, many groups and bands from German speaking countries, with thousands of visitors, are attracted to the New York Parade to promote the spirit of GermanAmerican friendship.
The Parade is financed entirely by the German-American community through personal donations, corporate contributions, the sale of Cornflowers and receipts from journals and social functions. The Parade Committee is a Non-Profit Organization, and all monies donated are tax deductible and solely used to finance the staging of the Parade.
The Cornflower, the floral emblem of the GermanAmerican Steuben Parade, has been accepted as an ethnic symbol of the German-American Community. The idea of such an association goes back before the inception of the Parade. The simple flower is found in the grain fields throughout central Europe, mingled with the ripening grain, side by side with the red poppy, and brightens the country-side everywhere throughout the summer. The beauty of this pure blue flower symbolizes the truth, loyalty and devotion that German-Americans hold for their American homeland. This shade of blue is also represented in our own American Flag, the Star Spangled Banner.