Elke Marks (Miss German-America 1994) is celebrating her 25th anniversary as Queen of the German-American Steuben Parade this year!

Klaus Wedemeier (Lord Mayor of Bremen, President of Bundesrat) and Ute Lally, (NY Supreme Court Justice) were the Grand Marshalls of the 1994 parade season. She originally applied for a court position because of her father’s active membership with the NYPD Steuben Association. She was initially so shocked when she won; someone had to tell her to stand up when her name was called as winner. Being a part of the court prompted her to explore her heritage and now makes sure to keep up German language skills and study of German culture. She continues to make Advent wreaths and cook traditional German dishes, especially around Christmas.

Elke’s mother is originally from the former East Germany and she moved to the west two weeks before the Wall was erected. Elke was Miss German-America five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  She took her trip to Germany the following year, and it was the first time her Aunt Reni could traveled across the border with family into the west. It was incredibly emotional to have been able to take the trip after the wall was down with my family united. Fantastic!

Elke traveled through Germany meeting everyone from dignitaries like Manfred Rommel, son of Erwin Rommel a.k.a ‘The Desert Fox’ to everyday people.  She was also honored to speak at Police Plaza and met some incredible people in the New York area. Elke continues to travel and has already made it to 38/50 states as well as some marvelous countries such as Morocco, Cambodia, Jordan, Israel, Costa Rica, Barbados and others.

Elke encourages future court members to, “Get out there and talk to as many people you can.  And when you give speeches, don’t be afraid to be passionate and speak from the heart. People relate to you that way and want to be a part of the parade.”  

Currently still in the tri-state area, Elke attends the parade and makes sure to tell everyone to come to Oktoberfest. “I will forever be grateful to the committee for the tremendous opportunity”. Thank you, Elke!

Written By Samantha Hart