Mueller participates in annual Steuben Day Parade

November 7, 2011 under CANR News

As an Ag Ambassador, Kirsten Mueller works to promote the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) by participating in recruiting events, visiting local high schools and meeting with prospective students and their parents. But every September, she becomes another ambassador of sorts as she takes to the streets of New York City, dancing down 5th Avenue with her Schuhplattler Club as part of the annual Steuben Day Parade.

The parade, which takes place every year on the third Saturday of September, is to promote German-American friendship and to commemorate the birthday of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Steuben was a Revolutionary War general — eventually commissioned inspector-general in 1778 — who worked to organize and train the Continental troops as a disciplined fighting force.

As September is German-American friendship month, the parade could not occur on a more appropriate date.

Mueller, a junior studying pre-veterinary medicine and biosciences, explained, “The parade promotes German-American friendship. A lot of clubs participate and you get an idea for the culture that we have. Each club that’s there is dressed in their tracht, which is German formal wear, and each club has a different tracht to denote where or what region they represent in Germany or Austria.”

Mueller, along with many members of her family, is a member of the Original Enzian Schuhplattler Club, a German folk dancing club. They represent the area of Miesbach, Bavaria, in southern Germany and her tracht consists of a maroon skirt with a light pink shawl. The club is one of the oldest in America and Mueller has been a member since the age of 5.

With the German culture so literally imbedded in her genes, it’s no surprise to Mueller that she became interested in dancing and spreading the word of her German ancestral roots. “My dad was part of a dance club, my cousins were in the dance club that I’m a member of before I joined, and it’s just a way to keep our culture alive.”

Different clubs from New York and New Jersey, as well as clubs from Germany and Austria, come to dance in the parade and this year, the festivities were captured by PBS, which recorded a two-hour special on the parade.

In addition to the parade, Mueller said there are a variety of events that take place afterwards. “There’s the Octoberfest to follow in Central Park with authentic German food and beer and there’s always good German bands that play, and it’s just a great way to experience German culture.”

Asked if she plans to dance in the parade next year, Mueller smiled and said, “Yes, definitely.”

For more information on the Steuben Day Parade, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas