NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A spectacular celebration of German heritage was under way in Manhattan Saturday.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, those who walked along the east side of Central Park Saturday could expect to hear oompahs and see Lederhosen.

“Today on Fifth Avenue people will see what I would personally think is the greatest and most colorful Steuben parade we have ever had in our 56-year history,” said Lars Halter, general chairman of the German-American Steuben Day Parade.

People come from overseas to witness the spectacle, Halter said.

“To see this parade, I think they come from all over the Tri-State area, but what’s even more exciting is people come from Europe — all over Europe, actually — to join the parade and to march in the parade,” Halter said. “This year, we have 20 groups that are joining us from Germany. That actually includes one group from Switzerland; from Basel.”

The parade was set to step off at noon Sunday at 68th Street and Fifth Avenue, and proceed north to 86th Street.

Three grand marshals were set to be on hand representing the U.S. and Germany. Among them was Werner Roth, a U.S. Soccer Hall-of-Famer who served as captain of the New York Cosmos during the team’s successful runs in the 1970s.

Also set to lead as a grand marshal was Christian Dinkelacker – a household name in Germany thanks to the Dinkelacker Bier family brewery – and Harald Leibrecht, who was born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston and spent his formative years in Germany before becoming a member of the German parliament.

Leibercht now serves as the coordinator for transatlantic affairs for the German parliament, handling relations and exchange programs between Germany and the United States and Canada.

The parade will also feature the fifth annual National Masskrugstemmen Championship, in which contestants will go head-to-head in a strong-arm beer stein-holding competition.

In all, 300 groups are participating from the U.S., along with 22 groups from Germany and 33 floats.

The parade is named for Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of the Prussian Army, who was invited by Benjamin Franklin to join the Continental Army under Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War in 1777.

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