By Myra Lee Adams Goff
The year 1946 was a premium year for celebrations here in New Braunfels. From its beginning in 1845, the town had celebrated almost everything with parades, dances, festivals, (Spass muss sein, or fun must be) but 1946 was special.
World War II had ended in September of 1945 and NB’s centennial celebration should have been that year, but WW II was such a sad time that the centennial association decided to defer the 100th anniversary of the founding of NB until “the boys came home.” Sadly out of the 1,491 Comal County men and women who served in the services, 38 did not come home.
The celebration was a three day extravaganza in May of 1946. Earlier in March, Mayor A.D. Nuhn proclaimed the centennial of the founding of the town from the Plaza. He asked all to stand when the siren went off and remember those emigrants who began this community. Only months before, this same siren had alerted citizens to air raids.
The Kindermaskenball parade, the annual children’s costume parade, kicked off the Centennial parade. Emmie Seele Faust, daughter of Hermann Seele (NB’s first school teacher), believed that the first Kindermaskenball parade took place in 1856. Seele supposedly brought the tradition from Germany. Seele led the children through the town and then out to a pasture near the Comal Springs, an area that would later become Landa Park.
During the Centennial parade, New Braunfels was honored with Texas Gov. Coke Stevenson’s speech on the Main Plaza. The parade was led by the 100- piece Texas Aggie Band. There was a Comanche Indian program led by Chief Parker of Oklahoma and finally a large waterworks display over Landa Park Lake. (“Kindermaskenball; Past and Present”; Rosemarie Leissner Gregory and Myra Lee Adams Goff)
Just four months later, the enormous historic parade was repeated again for the big Centennial Comal County Fair celebration. This would be the first big fair in five years. There had been no fair since the war began in 1941. In 1944 there was a scaled-down stockshow and rodeo at the fairgrounds. County Agent and Fair Director Leslie Ehlers encouraged ranchers to bring livestock for display. There was also a rodeo by Reagan Calhoun who said the bulls “would be subdued by hand”. A few commercial entries could be seen and there was a small parade of cowboys, cowgirls, and rodeo performers. (“It’s Fair Time”; Myra Lee Adams Goff)
It wasn’t until 1946 that a full-fledged fair took place. The kickoff was a giant parade much like the one in May honoring New Braunfels’ history. Horse racing returned after a long absence with so many entries that Sheriff Walter Fellers had to look for barns off the fairgrounds.
Since automobiles were impossible to buy during the war, a very special post-war exhibit featured new autos now available Dealers were eager to show them off. The 1946 Kaiser-Fraiser got lots of attention.
Three long-time Sophienburg supporters and volunteers were especially happy about the decision to postpone the centennial year until the boys came home. Ruth (Jahn) Heitkamp said that her husband Walter “Square” Heitkamp went into the service immediately after graduating from A&M. She came back to NB when he was sent overseas. Volunteer Lorene (Baese) Fiedler had a similar story in that she came home to wait for husband Kenneth’s return from overseas. Volunteer Harriet (Rust) Hargrove was a small child at the time and was in NB with her mother’s family awaiting the return of her father Melvin “Meps” Rust from overseas. All three families were united by Centennial time.
The Comal County Fair starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday with the big parade Friday. This year I’m going to remember the centennial year of 1946 with its huge parades and reasons to celebrate. As the saying goes, Spass muss sein.