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For 132nd time, German culture is celebrated in Franklin Square

Local German-Americans, Long Islanders, family and friends celebrate their German heritage during the 132nd annual Plattduetsche Volksfest in Franklin Square July 12, 2015. German food and beer, singing and dancing were all part of the traditional celebration.(Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

Dozens of people gathered Saturday to enjoy traditional German music and dancing, eat giant pretzels and bratwursts and sip golden beer at the 132nd Plattduetsche Volksfest in Franklin Square.

Burt Phannemiller, 71, of Bellerose Village attended the festival with four of his grandchildren. Phannemiller, who has German heritage, held a plate bearing a bratwurst topped with sauerkraut and mustard.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "I want my kids, my grandkids to understand the German-Bavarian culture."

Vendors sold trinkets, beer steins, traditional German hats, garlands of artificial flowers and T-shirts bearing such words as "Das boot was made for drinking" and "Got Pretzels?"

The Brooklyn Schuetzen Corps oversaw a shooting range where participants could use .22-caliber German target rifles and win small trophies or beer steins, according to club member Bruce Zumstein, 71, of Franklin Square.

German and American flags fluttered side by side in the open courtyard.

At 3 p.m., the skirts of eight female dancers ballooned as they spun in a large circle while their male partners stomped, whooped and slapped their knees in the circle's center. The crowd clapped in time to the dance music of an accordion and a trombone.

Elizabeth Killian, 16, of Wantagh laughed as she and her partner struck their final pose, with the men kneeling and the women standing.

Killian, dressed in a dirndl with a forest green bodice, white blouse, and a checkered blue, green and white apron, said dancing is a family tradition that she's been doing since she could walk.

The German dancing club Gemütlichen Enzianer, which means "happy flowers," participates in the festival each year, according to Killian's father, Stephen, 55, of Wantagh, the club's honorary vice president.

At least 16 clubs put on the Volksfest, he said. About 2,000 people attend the two-day festival each year, he said.

Randy Hintz, 51, of Albertson, wore a dark green pointed hat that once belonged to his father, who was from Hamburg, Germany, and died in 2004. The hat was adorned in pins, including a large brush pin, from his father's trips to Germany.

"I wear it in memory of him," Hintz said.

Hintz and one of his brothers brought their mother, Marilyn, to the festival.

"We like to keep in touch with our German roots," Hintz said. "The music brings me back."

The festival continues Sunday. Doors open at 10 a.m., music begins at noon and festivities end at 8 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults. Children ages 12 and younger get in free.

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