Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist
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It’s that time of year again, Hollywood – Oktoberfest, and it’s going to be wunderbar!
“We run our Oktoberfests on three separate weekends,” shares Michael Haas, the first Vice President of the German American Society of Greater Hollywood (GASGH). “The next two dates are October 8th, and October 22nd. Doors open at 5 pm and we run until midnight or so… and because we celebrate in our Clubhouse, we have two great advantages over other venues: we are on rain or shine, and we are under air!”
How cool is that? This German beer-filled fest is celebrated around the world and features dancing, singing, food and yes, beer! Lots of sweet, delicious beer!
“Our featured beer is from a great sponsor and supporter, Haufbrau (HB),” says Jeff Awve, President of the GASGH. “Once a year they brew their HB Oktoberfest specifically for this event. Club members look forward to the tapping of the first keg every year!”
The ceremonial tapping of the keg is one of the favorite Oktoberfest traditions. It is followed by a toast led by the President of the club which all patrons participate in and it ends with a German drinking song known as the Zicke Zacke Chant.
So just how did this German event start here in Hollywood?
Awve shares some history. “Holger Obermann was a sports announcer in Germany prior to coming to the States. At the time of the founding of the Society, he was the editor of an American newspaper printed in the German language and the producer of ‘The German Voice,’ the only German radio program in Florida.”
In January of 1969, having outgrown the Jaycee Hall where they were meeting, the members began searching for property to build their own Clubhouse. One of the parcels they looked at was an unincorporated piece of land on the 100 block of Hollywood Boulevard. “This was ruled out because it seemed too far west and there was nothing but wilderness around it. The members thought that no one would come out that far in the dark of the night, and it was voted down.”
Eventually, the group ended up buying the property that the Clubhouse stands on today, at 6401 Washington Street, Hollywood. It was purchased from one of the members who was a builder. There were a large number of people with German decent living in the area, so the club was founded to “bring together people of German birth and heritage and citizens of the United States for social and cultural purposes and to promote German-American relations and the understanding of German culture.”
“I’ve been attending events at the club since the age of two,” shares Haas. “My grandfather was president for a few terms in the eighties and has been involved off and on up until recently due to health reasons.”
Many German locals and members attend this event.
Our club is reminiscent of a German beer tent,” shares Haas, “and there’s always someone to practice your German on.”
The Oktoberfest takes months to coordinate and prepare, with meetings starting two months prior to discuss marketing, budgeting, procurement, entertainment, and what they can do to improve year after year.
“We hire entertainment especially for our Oktoberfest event,” shares Haas. “Bob Houston has been our featured entertainer and we feel honored that he books with us. We mix it up so everyone can have a great time, no matter what your musical tastes may be.”
The Oktoberfest also features traditional dancers that come every year and perform German dances. It is a highlight of the night that many people look forward to.
“We feel we present the most authentic Oktoberfest experience available in South Florida,” said Awve. “Our food is prepared on sight by long-time members, using recipes handed down throughout their generations; our merchandise is hand crafted by members, representing the German culture and heritage; and lastly, we run our Ms. Oktoberfest contests.”
So come on out, Hollywood, and experience a real Oktoberfest Oct. 8th and 22nd! A good time is had by all!
The German American club house is located at 6401 Washington Street in Hollywood.