Columbus has always had strong German roots, evidenced in both the Brewery District and German Village.
Columbus has always had strong German roots, evidenced in both the Brewery District and German Village. In the 1990s, it was further strengthened largely thanks to the late Frank Wobst, who was born in Dresden, Germany, and ultimately became one of the most powerful Central Ohio residents as CEO of Huntington Bancshares. It was Wobst who forged a sister city relationship between Columbus and Dresden in 1991, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In 1999, Wobst, along with Huntington vice president Dorothy Brownley and local attorney Jeff McNealey, helped bring one of Dresden's most enduring traditions, the Christmas market known as Striezelmarkt, to Columbus. The Striezelmarkt, which dates to the 1400s in Dresden, is the largest Christmas market in Germany, drawing more than 2 million people each year.
To bring that tradition to Columbus, the Dresden Sister City Board of Trustees brought more than two dozen German vendors and their wares here, setting up a mini Striezelmarkt in front of City Hall. The event was kicked off the same way it begins in Dresden: with a parade, featuring a giant stolen, a traditional Christmas bread. The 1,000-pound loaf carried on a wagon down Broad Street was baked by Kroger. Mayor Greg Lashutka cut the first slice. A 35-foot wooden pyramid covered in hand-carved figures, on loan from Dresden, and a 12-foot cuckoo clock helped mark the spot.
The Columbus Striezelmarkt featured booths and tents offering German historic crafts, woodcarvings, pottery, beer steins, candy, toys, clocks, linens and baked goods. It ran for two weeks and drew 70,000 guests.
It returned to the same location in 2000, featuring even more Saxony food and a carousel with 12 hand-carved horses. It was canceled in 2001, but returned again for a final year in 2002.
Here we go a-caroling
The Columbus Dispatch printed these little books of lyrics annually for many years. They were distributed to individuals, or by bulk to civic groups, for free in the lobby at 34 S. Third St. Where have all the carolers gone?