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German-American History… and Beauty
Stephanie Russell-Kraft is "Miss German-America" - The Committee is proud of their new Royalty
Stephanie Russell-Kraft is a symbol of German-American Friendship. Born to a German mother and American father on October 6, 1987 - the very day President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation for the first Annual "German-American Day" -, she has been enjoying both sides of her heritage ever since. She was now crowned "Miss German-America" and will be the Queen of the upcoming 53rd Annual German-American Steuben Parade.
The German-American Committee of Greater New York held their Annual crowning ceremony at the historic Liederkranz club on New York´s Upper East Side. Five young ladies had signed up to compete for the title of "Miss German-America" or find a place in her court to be part of the many German-American events throughout the next twelve months.
The five ladies, 17 to 24 years of age, were interviewed by a panel of judges who grilled the candidates on all things German-American. They took this non-public part of the competition in stride before mingling at a cocktail hour with over 100 friends and supporters from the German-American community who had come from all over the Greater New York area. The audience, who would be asked to cast a vote to be counted next to the judges verdicts, enjoyed their time meeting the ladies before sitting down for a buffet dinner by Austrian caterers "Seasonal".
After the meal, the candidates were asked on stage for their interviews, during which they talked freely about their relationship to their German and American heritage as well as historic German-Americans and the influence they have had. Those came from all walks of life: Stephanie Russell-Kraft named caricaturist Charles Schulz as the German-American who had impressed her the most. "I love how he used the simple media of drawing and very short phrases to affect people all around the world", she said of the late creator of the "Peanuts" comic strip."He had a way of telling about real human conditions in a funny way."
The reigning "Miss German-America" hopes to be able to do that, too. The 22-year-old is working towards a career in writing. Originally from Southern California, Stephanie Russell-Kraft has moved to New York to graduate from Columbia University. She is planning to get her Masters Degree in Berlin.
On her parade float, she will be joined by two princesses: Laura Marie Bucher, who had previously named chocolate baron Milton Hershey as her favorite German-American. "He brought a luxury item to the masses and, in the process, built an entire city and a community around his company." She also named John Peter Zenger as a German-American who impressed her. Zenger, a German-born journalist and publisher in the 18th Century, is considered the father of the Freedom of Press. Laura Marie Bucher, who is 23 years old and from New Providence, NJ, is a member of the Deutsche Club in Clark, NJ. She works as a restaurant manager.
Lauren Alexandra Kuehn, a 19 years old former "Plattduetsche Princess" from the German-American community in Franklin Square, NY, who is now a German Major and member of the German Club at the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts , named John D. Rockefeller as a German-American influence. "He was not only the father of our industrial age, but also inspires me for his philanthropic work especially in the area of the medical research he funded."
Two other contestants, Tasha Rothlisberger and Anne-Sophie Gerald, did not make the court, but were named Steuben Parade Ambassadors. Both will be invited to be on other floats in the Steuben Parade and experience the event, too. They are eligible to run again in the future.
The Queen´s court is complemented by three Junior Princesses: Sisters Nicole Grace and Natalie Elise Dahlquist of Massapequa, NY, and Kristiana Wolfe of Glendale, NY.
In addition, for only the second time in parade history, a Junior General was selected. Jack Kemperle of Long Island, NY will be wearing the uniform of General von Steuben at many of the German-American events this year, including the parade.
Steuben Parade General Chairman Lars Halter applauded the new court. "We are excited to have a court comprised of so many young ladies who are proud of their heritage and familiar with the historic achievements of their forefathers." Halter thanked some of his board members for their hard work: Vice Chairwoman Geraldine Brand, who had been in charge of the Crowning ceremony as well as Connie Rom and Nicole Radkse, who will be working with the newly selected court in the year to come.
Halter also thanked the event sponsors, among them German beauty product company Tweezerman who supplied the ladies with professional beauty tools and Svarovski crystal tweezers, and SebaMed, a German maker of soap and lotion with a pH of 5.5. Health food provider Seitenbacher had donated organic gummy bears and chocolate bars. The main sponsors of the German-American Committee are Mercedes-Benz, Bayer, and German airline Air Berlin.
The Steuben Parade will be held on Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at Noon on Fifth Avenue. Hundreds of Marching groups from all over the United States and Germany will line up around 68th Street and march up to 86th Street before coming together at the Oktoberfest in Central Park. For further information as well as tickets to many Steuben Parade events, visit this web site again or check the web site of the German-American Committee at www.gacgny.org.