Every year, the Steuben Parade is led by one or more Grand Marshals. The Parade Committee is responsible to decide on whom to honor with that title, and candidates need to fulfill one of two criteria: They have to be an American citizen of German heritage who made an impact on society through work in politics, diplomacy, culture, sports, business or other fields. Or they are a German citizen with a strong history of working towards German-American friendship.
The definition "German" is used widely by the Steuben Parade committee, as the organization is not a political but a cultural one. "German" is used as a description for the entire area of German-speaking culture, which includes Austria and Switzerland.
Here are some of the most recent Grand Marshals who have led the German-American Steuben Parade:
Werner Roth (2013)
Werner Roth is a US Soccer Hall-of-Famer, who captained the New York Cosmos, counting Franz Beckenbauer and Pele as his team mates. With Roth as captain, the Cosmos won the 1977 Soccer Bowl. Roth also served as team captain for the US National Team. Roth appeared in the 1981 movie "Victory", with Sylvester Stallone. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Robin Mattson.
Harald Leibrecht (2013)
Harald Leibrecht was born in Evanston, IL, where his father was teaching theology. Since 2002, Mr. Leibrecht has been a member of the Bundestag focusing on international relations, international commerce as well as cultural and educational initiatives. Since 2011, Mr. Leibrecht has been the German Government's Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation, handling relations and exchange programs between Germany and the US.
Christian Dinkelacker (2013)
Christian Dinkelacker is a household name in Germany, thanks to the family brewery of the same name. Founded by Carl Dinkelacker in 1888, the company brews its beers in Stuttgart. Dinkelacker has a proud history in America, first exporting beer in 1964 for the World's Fair in New York City. Their first business partners in the US included "Wienerwald" on Broadway and "Heidelberg" on Manhattan´s Upper East Side.
Hon. Dr. Henry Kissinger (2007)
Henry Kissinger was born in Fürth/Bavaria in 1923. In 1938 his family immigrated to America to flee Nazi persecution. The Kissingers settled in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan, where young Henry attended George Washington High School. He continued his studies at the City College of New York before being drafted into the US Army. Kissinger was deployed to Germany and, thanks to his fluency in German, played a leading role in the de-Nazifying of the city of Krefeld.
Back in the United States, Kissinger graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and started his political career as an advisor to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. When Richard Nixon was elected President, he made Kissinger his National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State, a role Kissinger kept in the Ford administration, too. Henry Kissinger has held the highest elected position of any German born in America. (However, German-born revolutionary and politician Carl Schurz served as Interior Secretary under President Hayes between 1877 and 1881.)
As Secretary of State Kissinger was instrumental in getting the US into a dialog with China. In 1973, Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to establish a ceasefire and the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam.
Today, Dr. Kissinger is Chairman of his advisory firm Kissinger & Associates. He continues to advise US presidents and other high ranking politicians.
Kissinger enjoyed being Grand Marshal at the German-American Steuben Parade tremendously. At the Gala Banquet in his honor, he gave a very personal speech reflecting on his own life as well as German-American relations and telling attendees about a humorous exchange with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl who had once asked Kissinger: "What do you think would have happened to you if your family had never left Germany". Kissinger replied: "According to family tradition, I would have probably become a teacher. Maybe I would have become principal of the school in Fürth", to which Kohl joked: "Don´t underestimate yourself. You would have probably made it all the way up to principal of the school in Nuremberg."
Col. Gail Halvorsen (2008)
Gail Halvorsen, born 1920 in Salt Lake City, UT, is one of the greatest heroes of the United States Armed Forces. He might not be a household name due to the fact that millions know him as "Uncle Wigglywings" or the "Candy Bomber".
Halvorsen grew up on a farm in Utah and became a pilot early on. During his service in the US Air Force he was sent to Europe after World War II had ended. He was one of the hundreds of pilots (US, British and French) who flew food, coal, clothing and other necessities of life into Berlin during the Soviet blockade, thus ensuring survival for the people in the German capital and, later, the status of West Berlin.
Early on during the time of the Airlift, Halvorsen had met some children outside the hangars of Tempelhof Airport. He was impressed by their curiosity and friendliness as well as their modesty. "These children did not have enough to live off, but nobody asked me for anything", Halvorsen recounted later. Turning back to the hangar he found some candy in his pocket and gave it to the kids to share. He promised to bring more and that the children of Berlin could recognize him for wiggling the wings of his airplane before throwing off candy. Halvorsen delivered on his promise and with the help of US companies and citizens flew tons of chocolates to Berlin, which were deployed in small parachutes.
As "Uncle Wigglywings", Halvorsen became the humanitarian face of one of the greatest military coups in history. He continues to travel to Germany regularly. Halvorsen was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and he carried the German team placard into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He called his experience of being a Grand Marshal in the German-American Steuben Parade "one of the highlights of my life."
Halvorsen and his wife Lorraine live in Utah and Arizona.
Ralf Möller (2008)
Ralf Möller is one of a few German actors who have had success in Hollywood. Born 1959 in Recklinghausen, the former bodybuilder started his acting career with appearances in the German TV crime drama "Tatort" before being cast as the title hero in a production of "Conan". After moving to Los Angeles, Möller was initially cast for movies focusing on heroic warriors, like "Universal Soldiers" starring two more bodybuilders: Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude van Damme.
Möllers first mainstream movie came in 1997 when he appeared in "Batman & Robin" alongside George Clooney, Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also starred in "Gladiator" with Russell Crowe as well as "The Scorpion King" featuring The Rock. His most recent success was "Beerfest", a spoof on German and Bavarian culture and the Oktoberfest.
Aside from acting, Ralf Möller is very engaged in social projects. In 2006, he started an initiative for children with socially troubled backgrounds. In 2008, Möller traveled to Afghanistan to meet with US troops. There, he delivered fitness equipment to bases and entertained the soldiers.
Carol Alt (2006)
Carol Alt is the first real super model. Her first success came in 1980 when she was featured on the cover of Harper´s Bazar. Two years later, Alt graced the cover of the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition upon which she quickly became a household name. During the height of her popularity, Carol Alt was the face of several ad campaigns for General Motors, Diet Pepsi, Cover Girl Cosmetics, Hanes and other major companies and products. She appeared on hundreds of magazine covers and was most recently features in Playboy Magazine.
.In a survey to find the "Top Ten Models of All Time" Carol Alt placed Fifth, only behind Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley, Gisele Bündchen, and Cindy Crawford.
Alt had a successful acting career as well, starring in approximately two dozens of movies, many of them Italian productions. She is a raw food eater and author of a successful book on this special diet to which she adhered even during the Steuben Parade Gala Banquet in her honor. Carol Alt enjoyed being a Grand Marshal at the parade, and so did her mother, Muriel, who is of German heritage and has been a model herself.
Donald Trump (1999)
Donald Trump, born 1946 in New York City, is one of the most successful Real Estate developers of all time. His family traces its roots to the German cities of Kallstadt in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz and Baden-Baden in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Trump attended the Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, Queens, and was later send to the New York Military Academy by his parents. He continued his studies at Fordham University and later the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, before joining his father´s business, The Trump Organization.
In his early years, Donald Trump was instrumental in getting the Javits Convention Center built on land he had an option for, and he helped the city of New York restore the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park. Trump owns some of the most famous skyscrapers in New York City, including Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and 40 Wall Street. He also owns several office towers all over the United States and has licensed his name to buildings in other countries as well. Trump also ran several hotels and casinos in Atlantic City, including the Taj Mahal and the Trump Marina.
In 2003, Trump starred in his own reality TV show, "The Apprentice", which became one of the most successful shows of its kind. His phrase "You´re fired" became a cultural phenomenon and launching "The Donald" as a brand all by himself. Today, Trump´s empire includes Trump University, a travel website, a Vitamin line, a luxury magazine and the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection of menswear, men´s accessories and watches.
Trump has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was excited to be a Grand Marshal in the German-American Steuben Parade and referred to the event as the only one "where the street is cleaner after the parade than it was before".
Siegfried & Roy (2001/2002)
Siegfried & Roy are the most famous magicians in the world and had one of the most successful shows in Las Vegas until 2004.
Siegfried Fischbacher (born 1939 in Rosenheim, Bavaria) and Roy Horn (born 1944 in Nordenham, Niedersachsen) both grew up in Germany. They met in 1959 when both worked on a German ocean liner - Siegfried as a cabin steward, and Roy as a waiter. They immigrated to the United States and started their first show: Siegfried as a Magician with Roy as his assistant. Later, they incorporated Roy´s love for exotic animals into their act and developed what would be their trademark show with magic, illusion and the world famous white tigers.
In 1972, Siegfried & Roy won an award for best show in Las Vegas, and in 1990 they were hired by Steve Wynn for his brand new casino Mirage. They later signed a life time contract with the casino and continued with daily performances until 2004 when Roy was attacked and severely wounded by one of his tigers, Montecore.
Siegfried & Roy continue to live in Las Vegas, where they are enjoying a German-American lifestyle that includes regular visits to the local Hofbräuhaus.
(Remark: The 2001 Steuben Parade was canceled due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center earlier that week. A silent march was held instead, leading to the laying of a wreath at a local Fire Co. Grand Marshals Siegfried & Roy were absent but were honored the following year.)
George M. Steinbrenner, III (2000)
George Steinbrenner is the principal owner of the New York Yankees and has led the most successful baseball team in history for more than three decades.
Steinbrenner, born in 1930 in Ohio, had an impressive academic career, studying English Literature and being active in extracurricular activities, mostly in track and field and football. He joined the Air Force and later worked in his father´s shipping business, that had made the family very wealthy.
After first experiences as a team owner with the Cleveland Pipers basketball team, Steinbrenner and some co-investors bought the New York Yankees in 1973 from CBS for $10 million. Under his leadership, the team has won the World Series seven times, including three consecutive times between 1998 and 2000.
Recently, George Steinbrenner - still known as "The Boss" - retired and now spends most of his time in Florida leaving the New York Yankees business in the hands of his four children. Steinbrenner was proud of being honored as a Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade, and his team continues to support the event. In 2009, the New York Yankees sponsored a float honoring German-American baseball legend Lou Gehrig.
Congressman Michael McMahon (2009)
Congressman Michael McMahon sounds very Irish at first, but that is only half his family story. On his monther´s side, McMahon has German ancestry and is very proud of it.
McMahon was born in 1957 and is a lifelong resident of the borough of Staten Island. He graduated from New York University in 1979 before obtaining a Law Degree from New York Law School. He then started his political career on the staff of several members of the New York City Council and the State Assembly before winning a seat on the City Council himself in 2002.
In November 2008, after his second term on the City Council, McMahon won the race for Congressman of the 13th District in New York with a landslide victory over his Republican competitor. He is currently representing Staten Island and a part of Brooklyn in Washington, DC and works on the Subcommittee on Europe with a special focus on German-American relations. In November 2009, McMahon was part of a welcoming committee for German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she addressed a joined session of Congress.
McMahon still looks back at being Grand Marshal of the Steuben Parade, which he said was a great experience and honor for him. Outside the parade season, he nurtures his German longings with German food and beer at the Nürnberger Bierhaus in Staten Island, which he often frequents.
Duncan Niederauer (2008)
Duncan Niederauer is the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange and thus one of the most prominent faces on Wall Street.
Niederauer, who traces his family back to Bavaria, spend a vast part of his career at Goldman Sachs, where he last held the title of Managing Director. In April 2007 he succeeded John Thain as head of the NYSE. Under his leadership, the most important stock market in the world has found new ways to expand its business. The NYSE bought the American Stock Exchange to strengthen its business in options and futures trading. The company also acquired the electronic trading platform Archipelago to form NYSE Arca, and later went public with their own stock trading under the ticker symbol "NYX".
When he was honored as a Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade, Niederauer brought his entire family to the festivities. He also was instrumental in promoting the parade to a business audience, when he invited the Board of Directors to ring the Closing Bell at the NYSE in September of 2008, an event that was successfully repeated in 2009.
Linda Schmidt (2009)
Linda Schmidt is one of the best known faces of local TV news in New York. She has been a reporter for Fox 5 for almost twenty years and has won the heart of viewers with her hard-hitting investigative journalism as well as her consumer oriented reports.
Schmidt has covered some of the country's biggest stories, including the World Trade Center attacks, the crash of TWA Flight 800, the deaths of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John F. Kennedy Jr., and the 9/11 Commission hearings. She has also traveled around the world covering news for Fox 5 in Israel, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Europe.
Born to an Army family in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Schmidt graduated high school in Denville, New Jersey. She earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Penn State University. After graduation, she worked for Q100 radio station in Easton, Pennsylvania before moving to Springfield, Missouri to work for KOLR-TV as a reporter and weekend weather forecaster. Her career path then took her to New Haven, Connecticut to work for WTNH-TV, on to WCAU-TV in Philadelphia and ultimately back home to New York.
Linda Schmidt has been a supporter of the German-American Steuben Parade for many years. In 2007 and 2008, she emceed the Gala Banquet at the New York Hilton & Towers and appeared as head announcer on Fifth Avenue entertaining tens of thousands alongside Fifth Avenue. When was honored as Grand Marshal in 2009, Schmidt was excited to see the parade from the VIP angle but promised to be back as an MC in future years.
Christian Haub (2009)
Christian Haub is the CEO of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), one of the largest grocery chains in the United States. The company is owned by German Tengelmann group, which is headed by his family.
The A&P company is a holding for some of the largest supermarket chains in the New York area, among them the namesake A&P as well as Pathmark, The Food Emporium, and Waldbaums.
Christian Haub and his entire family enjoyed being part of the German-American Steuben Parade, and the company is actively supporting the German-American community. Recently, A&P together with other sponsors donated an 80 pound gift basket of German goods that was presented to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese New York. Archbishop Dolan is himself a great friend of the German-American community and presides over the annual mass starting of the Steuben Parade weekend.
John Roland (2004)
John Roland is a former anchorman at Fox 5 TV in New York and one of the most respected TV journalists in his field.
Born in 1941 to a family of German-American immigrants, Roland graduated from California State University in 1964 and began his broadcasting career at NBC News in Los Angeles. He covered the Robert F. Kennedy assassination as well as the Charlie Manson trial.
Upon relocating to New York, Roland joined Fox 5 and was a news anchor for many years. Roland retires in 2004 and is currently working as a paid spokesperson for a New York law firm. His image can be seen on posters in the New York subway.
New York Mayors Robert Wagner (1958), Ed Koch, Rudolph Giuliani (1997), and Michael R. Bloomberg (2003)
Many German-American Mayors have left their mark on New York City, especially among them Robert Wagner who helped found the Steuben Parade in 1958, and the legendary Ed Koch in the 1980s. Both of them have been Grand Marshals of the German-American Steuben Parade and have been great supporters of the German-American community, which at times had dominated the New York City streetscape and culture.
While neither Rudolph Giuliani nor his successor Michael Bloomberg are German-Americans, both of them have been good and reliable friends of the German-American Steuben Parade as well.
Under the leadership of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the parade committee was able to establish German-American Friendship Week, and during Michael Bloomberg´s reign it was expanded to German-American Friendship Month. Mayor Bloomberg hosts an annual reception for the Steuben Parade committee to present a proclamation and often talks about his time in Germany, where he spent some months as a young adult and later traveled on business to visit the Frankfurt headquarters of his news service Bloomberg LLP.
Theobald Dengler (2009)
Ted Dengler is a Bronx boy. His grandfather and grandmother emigrated from the Rhineland. Ted's father was born in Manhattan. Ted Dengler along with his father were one of a small group that founded the Steuben Parade in 1957.
Dengler has been serving the German American community, starting as a Boy Scout in Yorkville Kolping Troop 636 from tender foot up to Committee Chairman, for 27 years.
Dengler went to Fordham College, completed law school and was admitted to the NY Bar in 1954. He joined his father in the practice of law later joined by his brothers, Norbert and Laurence, and his sister, Hilda. After serving in the US Army in the Judge Advocate Section in Orleans, France, he returned to the law firm.
He married Erna, a Yorkville girl, and they have four children. Ted continued to be very active in the German-American community. He was President of the Kolping Society of New York, President of the Leo House for German Catholic Immigrants and an Advisor to the American Turners Foundation of New York. He led German American Committee of Greater New York for many years. In 1978, he received the Medal for Distinguished Service in Catholic Organizations from Terence Cardinal Cooke. Mayor Ed Koch awarded him the Mayoral Ethnic Service Medal in 1988.
For Ted Dengler, being honored as Grand Marshal of the German-American Steuben Parade was a distinct highlight in a lifelong relationship with the community. His day as Grand Marshal was even more special as it fell on the day of his 80th Birthday. Dengler remains a strong supporter of the Steuben Parade.
Eric Braeden (1995)
Eric Braeden was born Hans Jörg Gudegast in 1941 and emigrated to the United States at age 18. He attended the University of Montana and had his first TV role in 1966 as a German officer in the series “The Rat Patrol”. Gudegast changed his name to Braeden, recognizing his hometown of Bredenbek near Kiel, which he continues to visit regularly.
Eric Braeden is one of the most famous faces in Hollywood, thanks to over four decades of work on the big and the small screen. He appeared in Gunsmoke, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and has been the central character of Victor Newman in the soap opera “The Young and the Restless”. On the big screen, Braeden appeared in “Titanic” alongside Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet, and had a role in “Planet of the Apes”, as well.
Eric Braeden has won many awards throughout his career. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a conscious German-American who regularly supports the community and appears at German-American events throughout the United States.
For a list of all Grand Marshals and Guests of Honor click here.