Our 50th Anniversary year was one of the high points in the Gemuetlichen Enzianer history: hosting the 8. Gaufest in the Waldorf-Astoria. The Gaufest began with the Welcome Dance on Friday evening, attended by 850-900 people. Our headquarters suite was the center of activity for the entire weekend, with last minute banquet tickets being sold or returned, flowers being distributed, etc., etc. Rain on Saturday did nothing to dampen our spirits, but did result in the parade from the Waldorf to St. Patrick's Cathedral for the Gaufest Mass being cancelled. Monsignor James W. Asip, our good friend from Mission Relief, honored us by celebrating the Mass, with members doing the readings, bringing up gifts, reading petitions, and serving as altar boys. Our club flag was re-blessed during Mass, with Fahnenmutter Tillie Mietzner, Fahnen Jungfrau Marianne (Hauck) Bayer, and our first Fahnentraeger Tony Graf participating. Following the Mass, a Cocktail Reception for the Gau officers, club presidents and Vorplattlers was held, and then festivities moved into the Grand Ballroom, where 1454 guests, filling all tiers of the ballroom, joined us for the Banquet. Busing to the picnic at Plattdautsche Park on Long Island began early Sunday morning. When the winners of the Preisplattling competition were announced, Bayern Verein Newark, NJ, took first place, STV Bavaria Cleveland, OH, second and Edelweiss Passaic, NJ, third. Due to the formation of a Gauverband panel of judges, the host club was allowed to participate in Preisplattling for the first time, and Gemuetlichen Enzianer placed fourth. We hope all participants took wonderful memories of New York back with them.
Gaufest 2001 – a Gaufest Odyssey began with the Thursday Welcome Dance in the Nevele Tennis Center, which had been transformed into a Fest Halle. Friday morning featured Fruehschoppen, offering Weisswurst, pretzels, Weissbier and souvenir Weissbier glasses. The remainder of the day included workshops, Kinder Einzelplattling and a Heimat Abend and Dance. Saturday began with the Gruppen Preisplattling competition in the Nevele Nightclub. A new Gauverband addition, Adult Einzelplattling, rounded out the afternoon.
At Saturday night’s Fest Abend, many clubs performed Ehrentaenze, including our Paten Kinder, Almrausch San Francisco, Bergvagabunden Schuhplattler, and HSV Bavaria; and Stamm Verein Almrausch Regensburg.. The Gemuetlichen Enzianer performed the Stern Polka with 28 couples, but the highlight of the evening was the adult Gauplattler, with every empty space in the hall filled with dancing couples. When the official events came to an end, activities moved to the smaller buildings – and “Gaufestland” was alive until the wee small hours, when Alphorns awakened us to the beginning of another day.
On Sunday morning the Nightclub was the site of the Mundart Messe, which included a moving trumpet solo of “Ich hat’ einen Kamaraden” as well as the Gau instrumental and choral groups and Alphorn players from Alt Washingtonia and Oberlander Los Angeles. Following the Mass, festivities moved to the Chalet for the picnic. Today the many Kindergruppen present circled the floor to perform the Gauplattler. Gauverband President Walter Wieand began the presentation of awards. The Schafkopf pokal was won by Gaby Gall of Almrausch Regensburg, the Weit Preis went to Enzian Seattle, and the Meist Preis to Edelweis Westchester, our Paten Verein. When the Gruppen Preisplattler winners were announced, fifth prize went to Original Enzian of Glendale, NY, fourth prize to United German Hungarians, Oakford, PA, third prize to Maple Leaf Almrausch, Ottawa, Canada, second prize to Bayern Verein Newark, NJ, and first prize to Gemuetlichen Enzianer. The Gaufest scepter was passed to the United German Hungarians, hosts of the 2003 Gaufest. The Farewell Pool Party, with palm trees and dunking tank, gave everyone a chance to let their hair down and relax, and bid farewell to new and old friends, until the next Gaufest.