WIESBADEN, Germany - Local residents and community leaders from both countries came together for five days of camaraderie and celebration for U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's third annual German-American Friendship Festival, which began June 30 and culminated in a fireworks display July Fourth in celebration of Independence Day.

Col. Todd J. Fish, garrison commander, thanked the city of Wiesbaden, the Polizei and everyone else who supported the festival and helped make it a safe and successful event.

"Thank you for helping us celebrate our country's birthday this year," he said. "The German-American Friendship Festival is our opportunity to open our doors and offer some hospitality to our German neighbors and friends.

"Over a glass of beer and some barbecue ribs, there's a chance to build shared understanding and a close relationship between the U.S. military, civilians, families and our German neighbors. This fest helps us celebrate a friendship that has grown over many decades, and we hope will continue well into the future."

Sven Gerich, lord mayor of Wiesbaden, expressed his delight with the revival of the fest.

"This is a wonderful tradition. I am very happy that we revived this fest again."

Joe Harris, FMWR chief of special events, who helped organize the festival, said the event is a little bit different from year to year, and that's no accident.

"Our goal was in the beginning to keep it always changing and always interesting," he said.
He also noted the family-friendly atmosphere and the fact that this year, they had a handicap accessible gondola on the ferris wheel as well as handicap accessible restrooms.

The intent, he said, is that people enjoy themselves in a safe setting and have the chance to converse with their neighbors.

"It's about meeting new friends and having a great time."