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German-Americans in Lederhosen greeting Pope
The papal New York visit marked a special weekend in Christina Rom's term as Miss German America. The 19-year-old student from Glendale greeted the Pope on 5th Avenue together with her family, the former Miss German America, Nicole Radske, and nine other members of the German-American Steubenparade, who were dressed in predominantly German Tracht - Lederhosen or Dirndls, the typical Bavarian dresses.
As Miss German America, Christina gets to go to many events of local German-American clubs, but the visit of His Holiness to New York is unique. Although she does not meet him in person, she still is excited at the prospect of seeing the venerable pontiff. More than two hours before the Pope is scheduled to drive along the same route that the Steubenparade takes each September, she is waiting on the side of the road and helping Chairman Lars Halter to tie both a German and a Bavarian flag and a big banner to the barriers along the side of 5th Ave.
The banner is designed in German and Bavarian colors, bears the official symbol of the parade, cornflowers, and reads "The German-American Steubenparade cordially greets Pope Benedict XVI." The greeting is in German, which is only natural since Benedict is, after all, the "Bavarian Pope."
"We are getting quite some attention," is Mr. Halter's comment when people ask for pictures with the group, "I hope the Pope will also notice us."
Finally, the crowd moves closer to the barriers - word has arrived that the Pope has just entered his Pope-mobile and started driving towards the group of German-Americans. 15 minutes later he has made his way up to where Miss Rom is waiting, waving and smiling at the Holy Father. It takes 20 Seconds, and then he is past her.
"I think he saw us briefly," she says, and Mr. Halter adds, "The cardinal who was in the Pope-mobile with him definitely saw us and even pointed our group out to him." But he was past them far too fast to really get a good look. Miss Rom can do just that on Sunday. She got a ticket for the mass at Yankee Stadium and can enjoy seeing the Pope, although he won't be as close as on 5th Avenue, "her" parade route.
Pictures by Robert Radske