by Joe Castilleja, 2015 Chair of the Board

September is here and Labor Day weekend ends New Braunfels official summer season. I hope you had a safe and fun filled summer. Now you hear the sounds of school bells, marching bands, spirit groups, and of course Friday Night Football. I was fortunate enough to be on the 1976 New Braunfels Unicorn Football Team, which won District for the first time in 25 years and continued on to the Quarter Finals. Our Head Coach was none other than the legendary Jim Streety. As we traveled, our opponents found our mascot to be unique and our coaching staff innovative. Not only is our town unique and innovative; New Braunfels is historical.

Let’s look at what makes New Braunfels unique

We are home to the shortest spring fed river in Texas and in the United States – The Comal River.

The Kindermaskenball meaning “children’s masked danced”, now known as the Kindermasken Parade (because the children no longer dance). Recordings of this tradition date back to 1856. It is the only parade of its type in Texas and USA.

The Neu Braunfelser Zeitung was the only continuously published German newspaper during the Civil War.

The Phoenix Saloon was the first bar in Texas to serve women.

The only high school in the country that has a Unicorn as a mascot. The unicorn was on Prince Solm’s coat of arms.

We are the only city in the United States founded by a Prince.

Innovative New Braunfelsers

William Hunter Meriwether invented “snake wire fencing” and obtained the first patent for wire fencing in the United States.

Chili powder was invented here in New Braunfels by William Gebhardt.

The Father of Texas Botany was New Braunfels’ own Ferdinand Lindheimer.

New Braunfels making history

Waisenhaus was the first orphanage in Texas. It was chartered in 1848, as “Western Orphan Asylum” by L.C. Ervendberg.

Founded in 1849, Schutzen Verein is the oldest continually running target shooting club in the U.S.A.

Established in 1845, New Braunfels I.S.D. is the oldest school district in Texas.

The oldest high school rivalry in Texas – New Braunfels vs. Seguin with The Unicorns leading the series 60-37-3.

The first state-wide Saengerfest (Festival of Signers) was held in New Braunfels.

Starting in 1857 and serving until after the civil war, Johanna Louise Benner was the first female Postmaster in Texas and one of the earliest Postmistresses in the United States.

Established in 1868, Naegelin’s Bakery is the oldest bakery in Texas.

Gruene Hall is the oldest operating dance hall in Texas.

Like my coach, role model, and friend Coach Streety said, “You do not need to win games to be a winner, it’s all about attitude, being positive, and having a strong work ethic.” Also, “as a team player, knowing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.” That is a life lesson for all who volunteer in our community, churches and schools. As we lead in the business and civic worlds, let’s keep our faith, family, and community first and the rest will take care of itself – In New Braunfels.

Joe Castilleja
Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Chair of the Board