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New Braunfels 25th Birthday (Part 2)

Beer wagon with Gambrinus in 25th Jubilee Parade. Sophienburg Museum & Archives (PST0001_7)

Beer wagon with Gambrinus in 25th Jubilee Parade. Sophienburg Museum & Archives (PST0001_7)

By Keva Hoffmann Boardman —

Day two of the 25th Jubilee of the founding of New Braunfels turned out to be just as wonderful as the day before. As it neared 10 am on Monday, May 16, 1870, citizens once again assembled at the school on Academy and Mill streets. The front of the building was gaily decorated with wreaths and garlands of evergreens and the old Academy flag. Today was not just a procession of citizens and guests, but an honest-to-goodness, full-blown extravaganza of a parade. It was to be a day showcasing the history and development of the town but also one of joyful fun.

While the parade was forming up, a sixty-gallon barrel of beer was tapped and glasses served to the participants and spectators. A sixty-gallon barrel of beer? Yeah, let’s try this today!

A group of young men, dressed as Native Americans, rode on horseback at the front of the parade. The grand marshal and the US flag led the group of First Founders and their descendants. They were followed by a plethora of floats and societies

The Turnverein float, drawn by six white horses, carried the 37 young ladies who had presented the banner to the men the day before. Dressed in white with blue scarfs, they represented the 37 states of the Union. At the top of the float stood a tall young lady in white with a golden belt and crown holding a flag emblazoned with “USA” and “Liberty”.

The groups of children from all the local schools walked in the same order as before. They were followed by an immigrant wagon pulled by four mules. The driver smoked a pipe and wore a Staubkittel (blue duster). The recently arrived Börner family joined 70-year-old Mr. Riedel, Mrs. Sacherer, Mrs. Merz and Mrs. Pfannstiel in the wagon already full of immigrant trunks and a spinning wheel.

The next float entered was the New Braunfels Woolen factory which portrayed industry in New Braunfels. Examples of lovely colored fabrics, green wreaths and a sign created with flowers decorated the float. A large working loom was being used causing spectators to cheer as it passed by.

Marching and singing, the members of the Neu Braunfelser Gesangverein and the Turnverein came next. They were followed by a float drawn by four oxen with gilded horns. This float carried Mr. Schuster dressed as Gambrinus in “a costly cloak of real red satin trimmed with ermine” and wearing a crown (Gambrinus is the legendary “King of Beer”). The float carried the sixty-gallon barrel of beer that was tapped at the beginning of the parade; the barrel was marked “From the First German Brewery in West Texas”. It had been donated to the festivities by W. A. Menger of San Antonio. Two smaller 15-gallon barrels from Rennert’s brewery were hitched to the back. King Gambrinus reigned over four boys dressed as pages who served beer to the thirsty parade members.

Various other businesses and groups participated in the parade that took the same route as the procession the day before. Each new section of the parade was separated with horse-back riders carrying US standards. The parade participants played “tin music” and cheered as they walked along. The shout of “Hoch!” (High! Raise up!) was sounded each time the parade passed through the arches on Main Plaza. A very loud cheer arose from both participants and spectators when the parade paused to take on new barrels of beer from Rennert’s Brewery.

Cheers from the spectators greeted groups and floats. Float riders sang German songs as they travelled along. The agent who worked for The Union and Bulletin in Galveston was hailed. Parade participants shouted, “Prost!” as they passed the homes of the mayor, Jubilee committee members and Dr. Koester. The “Indians” on horseback randomly attacked and tried to raid the floats. They were successfully fended off with guns, smoking pipes, a crutch and yes, one woman used a sausage! The “Indians” managed to steal a boot and a bottle of whiskey, but these were soon confiscated by the sheriff.

Even with all the unbridled levity, the boisterous crowd became silent and bared their heads in honor as they passed the home of Dr. Remer on Seguin Street. He “who had worked so diligently for the success of the Jubilee, who had labored so faithfully with the founders for the town’s development” was very ill. (The day before, he had been in a chair on his porch and received loud cheers and the well-wishes of friends as they passed by.)

The parade continued and finally passed over the Comal Bridge. When Joseph Landa’s coachman turned the oxen of the Gambrinus float to pass the triumphal arch, Mr. Landa seized the reins and guided the float smoothly under the arch to the applause and cheers of “Landa, the driver of oxen!”. The crowd dispersed and found one of the many bars scattered around that dispensed beer and both native and imported wines. There was also an all-day lunch room which served hot meals and “good coffee” for a nominal price. Just past the festival grounds were two shooting ranges where contests took place — – one for target shooting, the other for shooting flying targets and skeet.

Mr. Seele delivered another speech and read congratulatory letters from absent dignitaries. Gambrinus stepped onto the platform and gave Seele a glass of beer to drink to the health of these well-wishers. Later in the day, Seele addressed the American population, in English, emphasizing how they helped, encouraged and stood by the Germans. He ended with a “Lebenhoch” (Good luck cheer) for the town’s American friends.

In the evening, the grounds were again lit up with colored lanterns and large kerosene torches. The triumphal arch was lit in a manner that made it seem transparent with changing red, blue and white lights. Music and dancing lasted late into the night only to be finished by another dramatic firework display.

Over 200 cannon shots were fired during the two-day festival!

On Tuesday, several citizens and Jubilee committee members “held a cozy post-celebration on the festival grounds and at Mrs. Josts, and so the Jubilee which will always be dear to the memory of all came to a close.”

Did these guys know how to party or what!?!


Sources: Faust Collection, Heilig album, Seele collection, Neu-Braunfelser Zeitung: Sophienburg Museum & Archives