Every year, the Steuben Parade is led down Fifth Avenue by one or more Grand Marshals. The Parade Committee is proud to select these Honorees and bestow the title of Grand Marshal. Each candidate must fulfill one of two criteria: They are required to be an American citizen of German heritage who has 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 and supporting 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 all German-speaking populations which includes Austria and Switzerland.
These are some of the most recent Grand Marshals who have led the German-American Steuben Parade:
Ambassador Emily Haber (2019)
Emily Margarethe Haber has been German Ambassador to the United States since June 2018.
Immediately prior to this, Haber, a career foreign service officer, was deployed to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, serving as State Secretary overseeing security and migration at the height of the refugee crisis in Europe. In this capacity, she worked closely with the US administration on topics ranging from the fight against international terrorism to global cyber attacks and cyber security. In 2009, she was appointed Political Director and, in 2011, State Secretary at the Foreign Office, the first woman to hold either post.
Earlier in her career, she served at the German Embassy in Ankara; in Berlin, she has served as Deputy Head of the Cabinet and Parliamentary Liaison Division, as Director of the OSCE Division, and as Deputy Director-General for the Western Balkans. Emily Haber has extensive knowledge of the Soviet Union and Russia, having worked both in the Soviet Union Division at the German Foreign Office and, on various occasions, at the German Embassy in Moscow, where she served as Head of the Economic Affairs Section and Head of the Political Affairs Department.
Emily Haber attended schools in New Delhi, Bonn, Paris, Brussels, Washington, and Athens. From 1975 to 1980, she studied history and ethnology in Cologne, earning her PhD with a dissertation on German foreign policy during the Morocco crisis on the eve of World War I.
Emily Haber is married to Hansjörg Haber. The couple has two sons.
Peter Beyer (2018)
Peter Beyer, Member of the German Bundestag, was born in Ratingen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on December 25, 1970. After finishing his higher education entrance qualification in 1991, he completed his military service in Wuppertal. Beyer then studied law at the universities of Düsseldorf and Bonn. In 1999, he graduated from university and was admitted to the bar.
Beyer began his legal career as an associate attorney for the US-headquartered firm on Mayer, Brown & Platt (now Mayer Brown). He also worked with Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione in Chicago, and Murchison & Cumming in Los Angeles.
In 2000, he enrolled in a postgraduate legal studies program at the University of Virginia School of Law and received a Master of Laws degree. Returning to Germany, Beyer practiced law at the BEYER Intellectual Property firm in Ratingen, where he became one of the country’s first officially certified intellectual property specialists. Beyer was elected in the general elections in 2009, 2013 and 2017 to represent the citizens of Heilingenhaus, Ratingen, Velbert and Wulfrath.
A committed Atlanticist for many years, Beyer stands out among Members of the German Bundestag and his party as one of the most committed advocates of a strong transatlantic relationship with the US and Canada. He serves as parliamentary Special Rapporteur on Transatlantic Relations in the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He is an active member of Atlantic-Brucke, the Aspen Institute and United Europe. Beyer is also Executive Vice-President of the Southeast Europe Association. In April 2018, Beyer was appointed Coordinator of Transatlantic Cooperation.
Helmut Jahn (2018)
Helmut Jahn was born in Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany in 1940.
Helmut Jahn has earned a reputation on the cutting edge of progressive architecture. His buildings have had a “staggering” influence on architecture according to John Zukowsky, Curator of Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago. JAHN’s buildings have received numerous design awards and have been represented in architectural exhibitions around the world.
Jahn graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Munich. He came to the United States for graduate studies in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. After attending IIT, he worked at C. F. Murphy Associates as a Project Architect under Gene Summers, designing the new McCormick Place. In 1976, his first major high-rise building in Chicago, Xerox Centre, received great critical acclaim.
Today, as Chief Executive Officer of JAHN, he has been called Chicago’s premiere architect who has dramatically changed the face of Chicago. His national and international reputation has led to commissions across the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. He is committed to design excellence and the improvement of the urban environment. His projects have been recognized globally for design innovation, vitality and integrity. With numerous publications on his work, the excitement his work has generated in the public eye as well as professional journals and press is clear.
The American Institute of Architects has declared, “Helmut Jahn is one of the ten most influential living American architects. Additionally, the United Airlines Terminal One Complex at O’Hare International Airport and the State of Illinois Center have been ranked as two of the best ten works of American architecture completed since 1980” and awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Jahn’s professional activities are highlighted by numerous lectures and juries for various universities, professional societies and civic and commercial groups. He is a Fellow in the American Institute of Architects in which his work has received seven American Institute of Architects National Honor Awards, and more than 60 Distinguished Building Awards from the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects. Included with other awards are, an Owens-Corning Fiberglass Energy Conservation Award, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Reliance Development Group, Inc. and R. S. Reynolds Memorial for Distinguished Architecture.
Jahn’s work has been included in exhibits worldwide since 1980, including the Venice Biennale, Italy, Verona, Italy, Tokyo, Paris, Argentina and the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany. He has taught at the University of Illinois Chicago Campus, was the Elliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Design at Harvard University and the Davenport Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University, and Thesis Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.
Admiral Nielson (2017)
Admiral Nielson was born in Dorsten, Germany on February 25, 1955. He joined the German Navy as a reserve officer candidate and graduated from Helmut Schmidt University of the Bundeswehr in Hamburg in 1978 and completed underwater weapons specialist training in 1981. Early assignments included tours as a watch officer on coastal minesweepers Koblenz and Wetzlar, minehunters Flensburg, Cuxhaven and Koblenz and subsequently command tours of Tübingen and Paderborn. He also served as an action officer for the Armed Forces Staff at the Federal Ministry of Defense and Deputy Commander of the 6th Minesweeper Squadron in Wilhelmshaven. Admiral Nielson has commanded units at all levels. From 1996 to 1997 he commanded the 6th Minesweeper Squadron and following his promotion to Rear Admiral (lower half), served as Commandant of the Naval Academy in Flensburg from 2003 to 2005 where he deployed to Commander Task Force 150 during Operation Enduring Freedom. Promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral in 2010, he was appointed Commander in Chief of the German Fleet in Glücksburg. Other significant tours include service as Chief of Division I Personnel, Social Services and Central Affairs Directorate of the Federal Ministry of Defence and later as the Director of Armed Forces Staff. In April 2012 he was appointed Chief of Staff Joint Support Service of the Bundeswehr. In March 2016 he assumed duties as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia. Admiral Nielson holds a Masters Degree in Economics and Organizational Sciences and is a graduate of the Admiral Staff Officer Course at the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College in Hamburg. His personal awards include the Gold Cross of Honor, for exemplary and meritorious service, German Armed Forces Deployment Medal and the German Flood Service Medal. Admiral Nielson is married and has an adult son and an adult daughter.
Heinz Buck (2017)
Heinz Buck was born in Armstorf-Horn, Niedersachsen, Germany on July 2, 1935. After he lost his father in Russia in 1942, Heinz along with his mother and two sisters emigrated to the United States of America on February 1st, 1950 arriving on February 22nd, 1950, George Washington’s birthday. He proudly became a US citizen in 1957. Once married, The Bucks raised their two daughters in Franklin Square, Long Island. Buck is the proud grandfather and great-grandfather of five grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. In 2002, widowed Heinz was remarried to the current Mrs. Buck, Renate.
Mr. Buck learned his trade as an aircraft mechanic during a tour of duty in the United States Navy serving as a flight engineer on an admiral VIP airplane. He began his civilian career in 1959 with Pan American World Airways, repairing aircraft in all corners of the world. He simultaneously attended college to further his education specializing in Transportation Management and Labor Relations. After 33 years, having risen to the position of Director of Aircraft Maintenance, his career came to an abrupt end when Pan Am World Airways declared bankruptcy.
In March of 1992, Buck joined a group of similarly impacted airline professionals to help form a new airline, Kiwi International Air Lines, where he served as Vice President of Maintenance and Engineering. His next career move was to accept a position with Atlas Air as the Regional Manager of Maintenance where he was based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for five years and responsible for managing the fleet throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Heinz returned to the US based in Westchester and decided to retire after the events of September 11th, 2001.
Mr. Buck has always been actively involved in the German-American community predominantly with the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen in Franklin Square. He was elected Vice President in 1988 of the PVV and continued to serve as President of the organization from 1992 – 1993. Buck was also a member of the Lamstedter Club where he also held the title of President. Mr. Buck continues to be an active member of the Brooklyn Schuetzen Corp, the Bederkesa’er Club, the Otterndorfer Buelkauer Club, the Norddeutschen Brueder und Schwestern, the Sievener Club, the Steinauer Club and the Altenheim Gesellschaft. Currently, Mr. Buck is the President of the German American Cultural Council. Buck is also a Mason and a member of the Allemania Lodge F & AM in Whitestone, New York.
Since 1980, Heinz Buck has been an active member and supporter of the German-American Steuben Parade Committee acting as Grandstand Chairman and 1st Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee. Mr. Buck is a Director of the German American Committee of Greater New York and served as their President from 2005-2012.
Peter Wittig (2016)
Peter Wittig has served as the German Ambassador to the United States since April 2014. From 2011-2012, he was German Ambassador to the United Nations in New York and represented Germany during its tenure as a member of the UN Security Council. There, he drew on his wide expertise in United Nations matters, having previously served as Director-General for United Nations and Global Issues at the German Foreign Office in Berlin.
Wittig joined the German Foreign Service in 1982. He has served at the Embassy in Madrid as private secretary to the Foreign Minister at the headquarters then located in Bonn, and as Ambassador in Lebanon and in Cyprus. He was the German Government Special Envoy on the “Cyprus Question” (the division of Cyprus). He has acquired extensive knowledge of the Middle East.
Before starting his career in the German Foreign Service, Wittig studied history, political science, and law at Bonn, Freiburg, Canterbury, and Oxford Universities.
Katarina Witt (2016)
Katarina Witt was born in East Germany and resides in Berlin, Germany. In addition to ice skating fame, she is a sports entertainment producer, TV host, actress, author, motivational speaker and humanitarian. Witt is a two-time Olympic Ladies Figure Skating gold medalist. She won her first gold medal during the 1984 Olympic games of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and her second gold in 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. During her competitive amateur career representing Germany, she amassed a total of four World Championships, six European Championships, and eight National Championships before retiring from amateur status following the 1988 World Championship!
Witt founded the production agency WITH WITT Sports & Entertainment GmbH in 1995-
In 1999, Witt was admitted into the “US International Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame”. In 2005, she established the Katarina Witt Foundation, to help children and adolescents with special needs regain mobility and a positive attitude toward life. Witt made her acting debut on stage in 2009 with her role as Amour in the play “Everyman” in the Berlin Cathedral. She has since written her biography, given tips and motivation for a healthy lifestyle in a fitness book, and packed her years of experience as a young athlete into a book combining fiction and reality based on her life’s story.
John Ratzenberger (2015)
John Ratzenberger is a multi-Emmy-nominated actor and accomplished screenwriter, director, producer and author who may be best known for playing mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the long-running NBC sitcom “Cheers.” Prior to creating his character on Cheers, John lived overseas for 10 years and has worked as a carpenter, archery instructor and deck hand on a fishing boat. He produced and starred in the Travel Channel series “Made in America,” which highlighted U.S. made goods and workers. He is passionate about how important it is for this country to recognize the need for, and to provide, the training to produce skilled laborers.
With “Made in America,” John established a television precedent and led the way for new series such as Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers to celebrate the work ethic that built America. He co-authored A Common Man’s Salute to an Uncommon Country, published by Time Warner.
Along with work in feature films, from major studio blockbusters like Superman and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back to independent films like the recent drama The Woodcarver, animation has been a natural home to his versatile vocal talents. Ratzenberger is the only actor to participate in every Pixar film, voicing the iconic characters of Mack the Truck, and Hamm the Piggy Bank. Due to John’s volume of film work, he is listed as the 6th most successful actor of all time in terms of box office receipts.
Ratzenberger is currently in pre-production on a new Television Series with the purpose of awakening Americans to the shortage of skilled workers that threatens our country as a whole. It will be a show about everything, highlighting America, its products, workers and citizens.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he attended St. Ann’s School in Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 1971, he moved to London and while working as a carpenter began his career in the performing arts. John is also the developer and founder of ECOPACK, a biodegradable shipping material that replaces Styrofoam and is now used worldwide.
Klaus Wowereit (2015)
Klaus Wowereit is a German politician, a member of the SPD (Social Democratic Party), and was the Governing Mayor of Berlin for 13 years from October 2001 to December 2014. He served as President of the Bundesrat (the fourth highest office in Germany) in 2001/02 and as a member of the Berlin House of Representatives.
Wowereit was born on October 1, 1953 as the youngest son of Hertha Green in West Berlin’s Tempelhof district. He grew up in modest circumstances with two sisters and two brothers.
Contessa Brewer (2015)
Contessa Brewer is a nationally recognized Emmy award-winning television news anchor and the host of MSNBC’s primetime series “Caught on Camera.” Brewer was born in Parsonsfield, Maine and graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism in 1996, as well as a Certificate of Contemporary Europe following her political studies in Strasbourg, France. Brewer joined MSNBC in September 2003 after working for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter. For the last two years, she was co-anchor of “TODAY In NY” weekend edition for NBC’s flagship station WNBC. She has also worked for KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, California from 1997 to 1999, and KRNV-TV in Reno, Nevada.
She and her husband reside in NYC, have twin toddler sons and a “dog”ter: a Dachshund named Olive.
John Muller (2014)
John William Muller is a respected television personality and an Emmy Award-winning journalist from Long Island, NY. He established himself as one of the most versatile journalists and anchors on New York television during his 11-year run hosting the ground-breaking show PIX11 Morning News for which he won the Emmy for “Best Morning News Show”.
A multitalented journalist, Muller was seen anchoring breaking news, hosting feature segments, presenting news-maker interviews and as the sports anchor on the broadcast. He was also the anchor, reporter, and producer of daily business news segments branded “It’s Your Money”. Muller went national in 2011, landing at ABC News headquarters in NYC. He was seen across all ABC platforms as an anchor and correspondent covering stories of national and international interest. In July 2014, Muller returned to WPIX to anchor weeknights at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., alongside Tamsen Fadal.
Muller attended 12 years of Catholic school on Long Island, where he excelled at academics and athletics. He received a scholarship to New York University, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communication, and minored in History. His first on-camera work was as a child model for the Ford Modelling Agency. He has taught broadcast-news writing and reporting as an adjunct professor at Fordham University and has been a guest lecturer at his alma mater, NYU.
He is an accomplished singer performing in New York City clubs with rock-and-roll bands, including shows with legendary guitar man Earl Slick. Muller’s charity work includes helping raise money for the Special Olympics and for the Coalition for Asian American Children. He resides in Tinton Falls, NJ with his daughter, Alexa, and his longtime partner and fellow journalist, Ernabel Demillo.
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.
The Dinkelacker Family continues to support the efforts of the Steuben Parade Committee each year.
Nik Wallenda (2012)
Nik Wallenda, the famous acrobat, daredevil and noted “King of the High Wire”, was named Grand Marshal of the 55th annual German-American Steuben Parade, held September 15, 2012!
Wallenda is a seventh generation member of the famous Wallenda family of artists, and his ancestors happen to be from Magdeburg – the very same city that is also the birthplace of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben for whom the Parade is named
Also in 2012, Nik Wallenda joined the ranks of legendary daredevils when he became the first person ever to walk across the roaring Niagara Falls on a two-inch steel wire. The historic event was broadcast live by ABC to an audience reaching 13.3 million Americans, garnering the highest rating for a non-sports broadcast of any network in six years.
Wallenda is married with three children, and considers his Christian faith to be a central aspect of his life.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer (2010)
German born sex therapist, author and media legend “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer was the Grand Marshal for the 53rd annual German-American Steuben Parade of NYC, held September 25th, 2010.
The Committee recognized Dr. Westheimers contributions to America but also her enduring love for her home land Germany, from which she had to flee during the Nazi era. At age 11, Dr. Westheimer was sent to Switzerland to be spared a grim fate in Germany. She later moved to Israel, where she was trained as a sharp shooter for the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. Dr. Westheimer moved on to Paris before immigrating to the United States in 1956. She earned a Masters degree at Columbia University before launching her spectacular career that has spanned radio (“Sexually Speaking”), TV shows, books, regular newspaper columns, computer software and her web site www.drruth.com.
Dr. Michael Moeller (2010)
Dr. Michael Möller, the Managing Director of Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in Munich/Germany, was also named a Grand Marshall of the 2010 Steuben Parade. Hofbräu is the fastest growing German beer on the US market, and the legendary Hofbräuhaus in Munich is known to tourists from all over the world as well as its own song, regularly heard at German-American bars and festivities. Dr. Möller has been at the helm of Staatliches Hofbräuhaus since 2000 and oversees the world famous brewery as well as other assets of the state owned company.
Congressman Michael McMahon (2009)
Congressman Michael McMahon might sound very Irish at first, but that is only half his family story. On his mother´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 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. In November 2009, McMahon was part of a welcoming committee for German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she addressed a joint session of Congress.
McMahon has fond memories of 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 heritage with German food and beer at the Nürnberger Bierhaus in Staten Island which he often frequents.
Linda Schmidt (2009)
Linda Schmidt is one of the best known faces of local TV news in New York. She was a reporter for Fox 5 for almost twenty years and has won the hearts 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 was the Mistress of Ceremonies at the Gala Banquet held at the New York Hilton & Towers and appeared as head announcer on Fifth Avenue entertaining tens of thousands alongside Fifth Avenue. When 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 company 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 has presided over the annual mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which starts off Steuben Parade weekend each year.
Theobald Dengler (2009)
Ted Dengler is a Bronx boy. His grandparents 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 the 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.
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.
Möller’s 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.
Duncan Niederauer (2008)
Duncan Niederauer served as the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange until 2014 and thus was one of the most prominent faces on Wall Street.
Niederauer, who traces his family back to Bavaria, spent 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 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 has been successfully repeated in subsequent years.
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. 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 facilitating the dialogue between the US and 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 serving as Grand Marshal at the German-American Steuben Parade. At the Gala Banquet in his honor, he gave a very personal speech reflecting on his own life as well as German-American relations. He recalled 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.”
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 after 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 among them, 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 dozen 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.
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 in Pittsburgh, PA, 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, retiring in 2004.
New York Mayors Robert Wagner (1958), Rudolph Giuliani (1997), Ed Koch (1982) and Michael R. Bloomberg (2003)
Many German-American Mayors have left their mark on New York City, 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 have dominated the New York City streetscape and culture.
While neither Rudolph Giuliani nor his successor Michael Bloomberg are German-Americans, both have been friends and supporters of the German-American Steuben Parade.
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 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.
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 Company. Grand Marshals Siegfried & Roy did not attend 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 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.
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 attended the New York Military Academy. He continued his studies at Fordham University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, before joining his father´s business, The Trump Organization.
Donald Trump was instrumental in getting the Javits Convention Center built 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 launched “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 Steuben Parade and referred to the event as the only one “where the street is cleaner after the parade than it was before”.
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”.
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.