Groundbreaking for the 18th annual German-american Volksfest was held near the new DYA building on Marshall Strasse. (Photo by Harold Ort)

Volksfest to begin July 27 - 18 Exciting days

Everyone is invited to the grand opening festivities of this year's German- American Volksfest depicting "Old San Francisco" beginning July 27 at 2 p.m. on Marshallstrasse, opposite Truman Plaza. You'll board the "Balaclutha," a replica of a famous seagoing vessel, which is anchored at Fisherman's Wharf and the famous Fairmont Hotel, to gain access to the fun. The buildings you'll see reflect San Francisco from about 1840 to just before the great fire and earthquake of 1906. Chinatown is depicted by several buildings that accurately reflect the Chinatown on San Francisco's famous Grant Avenue. MG C. P. Benedict, U. S. commander Berlin and Governing Mayor Dietrich Stobbe will officially open the largest Volksfest in Europe following a concert by the 298th Army Band. BG Walter E. Adams, community commander, and Herr Dr. Wolfgang Rothkegel, district mayor of Zehlendorf, will also join in the opening ceremony. This year's Volksfest will feature some exciting entertainment including the Karate Klowns in a bar room fight, Can-Can dancers, belly dancers and the famous Simone. Music will be performed by the 298th Army Band, 3d Infantry Division Band, 7th Army Chorus and the Singing Sweethearts. Of course, this year's entertainment will also include Western Shootouts that were a part of everyday life in "Old San Francisco." A new attraction this year will be AFN Radio broadcasting live from the Volksfest grounds, daily, between 4 and 6 p.m. Along with the great entertainment, this year's Volksfest will feature the traditional American specialty foods such as ice cream, hamburgers, tacos and as a special feature, Chinese egg rolls and chow mein, not to mention the root beer floats. For those who like daring amusement rides and the carnival atmosphere, there's plenty. The Schaustellerverband will provide fun for the young and young at heart with a ferris wheel, merry-go-round and many other more daring rides. A special game. tent will provide plenty of opportunity for you to try your luck and skill. During the 18 days of Volksfest, special days have been set aside as Friendship Days, Kinderheim Days, Altenheim Day and Allied Forces Day. During Friendship Days, district and U. S. officials and invited guest will get together to honor each of the districts in the American Sector of Berlin. Kinderheim Days provides 800 children from orphanages in Berlin to visit the Volksfest with American soldiers as escorts. Altenheim Day gives 35 senior citizens from each of the districts in the American sector a chance to enjoy the festivities with American ladies and 50 American soldiers will host 50 British and 50 French soldiers during Allied Forces Day. Linda Pelz and Sandy Thomas are the Queen's who will reign during this year's German-American Volksfest. They will be on hand to share in the excitement and beauty of it all. You're sure to catch a glimpse of them. The first U. S. Command sponsored Volksfest can be traced back to 1961. It was designed to raise funds for the local American Youth Activities and to provide Germans and Americans in Berlin with entertainment when Berliners, not always able to enjoy holidays elsewhere, seemed to need diversion. That first Volksfest had no specific theme, being simply a carnival with ferris wheel, ghost rides, raffles and a refreshment tent complete with a Bavarian Band. It was suddenly closed on Aug. 13, when, at about 2 a.m., units of the Soviet Zone assumed position along the Soviet Sector boundary dividing it from West Berlin and began to seal it off with barbed wire. The Volksfest started up again in 1962 with the theme "Laramie," after a Wyoming village. Since that time, the German-American Volksfest became an annual event with themes such as "Mayflower, Alamo, Las Vegas, The Old West" and many others to give Berliners a glimpse of Americana. Keeping with the tradition, this year's theme of "Old San Francisco" promises to touch the hearts of those that have been there and those that dream of it. San Francisco is one of the most popular cities on the North American continent for both its thousands of visitors and residents. Situated at the head of a peninsula, San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides and is probably the most "European city" in the United States. Don't miss this opportunity to view "Old San Francisco" from July 27 through Aug. 13. The fun begins daily from 2 p.m. to midnight and weekends from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Be sure to check the Berlin Observer for updates and scheduled entertainment.

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