Written By: Pavlina Schriel, Miss German-America 2018

My year as Miss German-America has been a truly incredible experience. I have had the opportunity to further explore my heritage, meet amazing people, and grow as a person. 

I had a very busy summer traversing the tri-state area and attending many different Oktoberfests and festivals. Miss German-America and her court are invited to promote the parade and enjoy the festivities of various clubs and German culture organizations. One of my favorite summer events was the Crystal Brook Mountain Brauhaus Festival. At this event they had an incredible line up of bands and it was located on Roundtop Mountain, a beautiful area of upstate New York. I made a weekend of it and spent the night in the area. 

When the summer events finished up it was the start of German-American Friendship Month in September. The Parade Committee organizes various events for everyone to be able to celebrate German-American friendship. The weekend of the parade itself was a whirlwind. On Friday a massive gathering with the groups from overseas is held. During this event I got to mingle with hundreds of people from the visiting groups and exchange cornflowers and pins. 

That Friday evening was the Steuben Parade Gala. The Gala is a gorgeous event held at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. It was at this event that I had the honor of performing the German and American national anthems. I have been singing my entire life, as a music teacher I sing all day, every day, but this was a different experience. I had Grand Marshalls Peter Beyer and Helmut Jahn as well as Consul General David Gill watching me. I was very nervous making my public German national anthem debut but when I started singing the entire room was filled with voices joining me, it was a very moving experience.

After dancing the night away the court rested up for the big day. The Saturday of the parade began with a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Many groups who were marching in the parade attended. We were all ready to kick off the parade up 5th Avenue at noon sharp. Being in the parade was amazing. There are so many people who come watch the parade, I even recognized people from summer events! We were all coming together to celebrate our German-American culture. After the parade was the German-American Friendship Celebration Oktoberfest in Central Park, it was a blast. I got to meet so many people who came to the parade, and reconnect with international guests.

A major highlight of my year was my trip to Köln. Miss German-America is invited to participate in Karneval celebrations. I participated in parades in Hürth and Bergheim. On Rosenmontag the “blau-gold” group hosted me to watch the parade. I met so many genuine people on my trip; everyone was so hospitable and caring.

I feel so fortunate to have had this past year. I am so thankful to have been surrounded by so many people who care so deeply about preserving our culture and heritage. My year as Miss German-America has been a tremendous honor that I will never forget.