King of the road: German town lights up for Elvis after 60 years

Friedberg and Bad Nauheim pedestrian lights reflect memories of the American GI

King of the road. The pedestrian lights in Friedberg, Germany, honouring the town’s famous former resident, Elvis Presley.

King of the road. The pedestrian lights in Friedberg, Germany, honouring the town’s famous former resident, Elvis Presley.

 

The small German town of Friedberg has neither a Lonely Street nor a Heartbreak Hotel. But in honour of its most famous former soldier it now has Elvis-themed pedestrian lights.

Some 60 years ago the singer arrived at the army base in Friedberg, north of Frankfurt, and lived off-base in nearby Bad Nauheim.

Now Elvis Presley Platz in Friedberg has three sets of pedestrian lights remodelled in honour of the king of the road.

The red man is Elvis standing at a microphone. The green man is an all-shook-up Elvis acting wild as a bug: arms over his head, balanced on his toes mid hip-thrust.

The new lamps were the idea of Friedberg local councillor Marion Götz and were created by a local graphic designer. “I think the lights give the square a lift and will appeal to many Elvis fans we already have from all over the world,” she said.

Not all locals in Friedberg knew who they were looking at as they crossed the street. “I wondered what it was, what it meant,” said one passerby to a local television station. “If I asked my grandson he wouldn’t know either.”

For an elderly local woman, it brought back happy memories of the singer’s time stationed in Friedberg from October 1958 to March 1960. “It’s my generation, it was a great time,” she said.

Priscilla

Nearby Bad Nauheim, where Presley met his future wife Priscilla, holds an Elvis festival each year and has also installed the lights.

Elvis isn’t the only one stopping traffic in Germany. Berlin has its East German pedestrian light men or Ampelmännchen, distinctively stout hat-lovers, while Trier changed its lights to celebrate the 200th birthday of local son Karl Marx.

For anyone who’s tired of talking grab your coat – and your blue suede shoes – and let’s start walking.