New Braunfels plans year of celebration for 175th anniversary

St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church: The first Catholic church in town was known as the Black Walnut Church and stood on the same location as the current limestone church, which was constructed in 1871. The first Catholic Mass held in New Braunfels happened as early as 1846. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church: The first Catholic church in town was known as the Black Walnut Church and stood on the same location as the current limestone church, which was constructed in 1871. The first Catholic Mass held in New Braunfels happened as early as 1846. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church: The first Catholic church in town was known as the Black Walnut Church and stood on the same location as the current limestone church, which was constructed in 1871. The first Catholic Mass held in New Braunfels happened as early as 1846. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Waisenfarm: The waisenfarm, or orphan farm, was established in 1848 as the Western Texas Orphan Asylum under the direction of Rev. L.C. Ervendberg. The home still stands at 1383 Ervendberg Ave. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Comal Springs: Made up of numerous small and large springs in Landa Park, they are the largest springs in Texas. The springs are fed by the Edwards Aquifer and turn into the Comal River—one of the shortest rivers in the state at 3.25 miles long. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Old City Hall: Built in 1929, the old City Hall building at 200 N. Seguin Ave. became occupied by the Sophienberg Museum archives upon the city government’s move to a new municipal building on Castell Avenue in 1990. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Big Spring at Landa Park: It was a popular attraction at Landa Park into the late 1920s and ran dry from drought in 1954 until heavy rains in the winter of 1957. Harry Landa first opened Landa Park and the spring to the public in the spring of 1898. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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New Braunfels Cemetery: Established during the first year of the colonists’ arrival, the cemetery was marked by the Texas Historical Commission in 1976. Vast areas remain unmarked as a result of mass graves due to an epidemic in 1846. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Train Depot: The International and Great Northern Railroad came to New Braunfels in 1880. One of its regular stops in town was the train depot on San Antonio Street. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad eventually laid tracks in town around the turn of the century. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Lindheimer Home: Pioneer, naturalist and botanist Ferdinand Lindheimer was granted a parcel of land by state Rep. John O. Meusebach in 1846. The land, designated The Botanical Garden, was granted to Lindheimer for unpaid service in Prince Carl Solms’ mounted guard. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
An event some 175 years in the making, the city of New Braunfels will celebrate its septaquintaquinquecentennial, or 175-year anniversary, in 2020. In preparation, the Greater New Braunfels Area Chamber of Commerce has embarked on a four-year-long adventure to ring in the anniversary in style. The chamber is partnering with hundreds of entities across the city to plan a year’s worth of entertainment that pays tribute to the storied history of New Braunfels, according to Since 1845 Committee Chair Anne Miller.

“You’ve got to plan out four years, and it got here so fast,” Miller said. “[The history] is what the commission decided it really wanted to focus on.” Telling the history of New Braunfels is no easy task, but the Since 1845 Committee has planned a long list of events in order to do just that. A New Year’s Eve gala kicked off celebrations Dec. 31, and March is packed full of historically relevant events, such as the opening of the 125th anniversary time capsule March 14.

“The capsules are usually closed for 50 years,” chamber President Mike Meek said. “The March 14 opening will coincide with a community breakfast in Landa Park. It’s an easy transition to have breakfast and then walk down the street for the time capsule opening.”

Along with a treasure trove of historical documents, pictures and artifacts, several of New Braunfels’ founding families are expected to be in attendance for the opening of the 125th anniversary time capsule.

Families, such as the Richters, have been in touch with the chamber and are expected to remove a number of historical pieces their ancestors placed in the 125th capsule. Many members of the family are in their late 80s and 90s.

Less than a week later, on March 20, the 11th annual Founders Trail Ride arrives in New Braunfels from Indianola on the Gulf of Mexico, where German settlers and future New Braunfelsers first landed nearly 200 years ago.

Riders will cross the Guadalupe River and travel down Seguin Avenue to St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Trail riders will then participate in the 175th anniversary parade, or Founders’ Day Parade, on March 21.

“The parade will include trail riders, participants in the kindermasken parade, a founding families float and a number of marching bands," convention and visitors bureau vice president Judy Young said. “We encourage people to have culturally or historically significant floats in the parade, and music was such an important part of the founding of New Braunfels.”One change to the Founders’ Day Parade in 2020 will be a combined event with kindermasken—the oldest children’s costume parade in the country. Kindermasken has been an annual event in New Braunfels for more than 120 years, Young said.

“I remember when I was in it,” Miller said. “My mother dressed me as a rabbit.”

Founders’ Day will conclude with a Founders’ Gala at Rockin’ R followed by a first-of-its-kind Founders’ Day fireworks show presented by Rocky Hill Equipment, Meek said.

“It’s a top-of-mind awareness all year long of the importance of this milestone,” Meek said. “This is a special deal.” Events paying tribute to the 175th anniversary of New Braunfels will continue throughout the year, including the return of the River Parade on Landa Lake on Sept. 5 and the Burger Ball at the Sophienberg Museum.

The Burger Ball, a former New Braunfels tradition, used to be a once-a-month dance called the Citizens Ball, Young said. The 2020 rendition will take place at Eagles Hall, a more traditional dance location than the Landa Park Dance Slab, she said.

Meanwhile, the River Parade has not taken place in 25 years, Young said. The parade is akin to a Venetian-style float and small boat parade on Landa Lake.

“Parameters will be available on the Since 1845 website,” Young said. “Typically, participants use a trolling or battery-powered motor and boats that are lightweight and easy to launch, similar to a johnboat.” Tasked with developing the city’s anniversary celebration every 25 years, the chamber receives no funding from the city and has sought to raise money for the many events from entities within the community, Meek said. The chamber has worked to raise funds through a number of special projects, including a 175th anniversary poster designed by National Parks Service artist and New Braunfels High School graduate Chris Cross. Additionally, the chamber has published a coffee table book featuring 365 historical and current photos and descriptions of significant landmarks in New Braunfels.

The chamber has also encouraged use of a specially designed 175th anniversary logo and is encouraging local organizations to incorporate the 175th anniversary into their annual events, such as the 60th Wurstfest in November.•“We encourage everybody next year to do that,” Meek said. “We ask all organizations in town to come up with a 175th project. They can do what they usually do, but it’s a little bit better, bigger or ties into the 175th anniversary.” Other aspects of the yearlong celebration include a city of New Braunfels project that updated a number of street signs in the downtown historic district. The new signs feature the chamber’s Since 1845 logo and are expected to be in place for the duration of the year.

“The added value from organizations like the city and multiple partnerships—I bet you the retail value of this whole project is going to be $1 million easily,” Meek said.

Every 25 years, the chamber also commits to a signature project, Meek said. For the 175th anniversary, the chamber has raised more than $400,000 to erect a pair of gateway signs that will welcome visitors to New Braunfels at the north and south ends of I-35.

In past years the chamber has been instrumental in projects such as the civic/convention center mural for the 150th anniversary and a patchwork tile display in Solms Park featuring names of New Braunfels families for the 125th anniversary.

“When we put on the 150th anniversary, half of the people here in New Braunfels today weren’t here then,” Meek said. “They have no memory of the 150th or 125th anniversary or our history, so this gives us a lot of opportunities for education and cultural awareness, and that gives people a greater sense of community.”
By Ian Pribanic

Ian Pribanic covers city government, transportation, business and education news for Community Impact Newspaper in the Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth areas. A Washington D.C. native and University of North Texas graduate, Ian was previously an editor for papers in Oklahoma, West Texas and for Community Impact in New Braunfels.


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