German city where Elvis served features him in new crosswalk lights
By AARON KNOWLES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 12, 2018
FRIEDBERG, Germany — Elvis left the building long ago, but in Friedberg the King never really went away.
Now, 60 years after Elvis Presley was a GI stationed at Friedberg’s Ray Barracks, the city has put up special crosswalk lights in celebration of its connection to the most famous singer to ever don an Army uniform. At Elvis Presley Platz, pedestrian lights have been put up that show iconic images of the King.
A red-colored Elvis singing with a microphone means stop; a green Elvis doing his famous hip-shaking dance means proceed.
The pedestrian lights are the latest addition in the city’s ongoing ode to Elvis.
Starting in 1958, Elvis Presley spent nearly two years stationed near Friedberg and the neighboring town of Bad Nauheim, where Elvis met his future wife, Priscilla. Bad Nauheim has become a popular tourism site and is the self-proclaimed European home of Elvis.
During his military service, Elvis — who died on Aug. 16, 1977 — also spent time at Grafenwoehr, where Pfc. Presley conducted maneuver training, and where the local museum has a special exhibit dedicated to the King with photos and letters associated with his stay.
Since 2014, Friedberg has been renovating the heart of the town, which features signs with information about the singer, including one that points in the direction of his Graceland home in Memphis, Tenn.
The idea behind the lights, which cost about 900 euro ($1,000) each, was to create something eye-catching for visitors, local politician Marion Goetz told the regional newspaper Wetterauer Zeitung.
The renovations were launched as part of a broader campaign to expand the original town square. Upgrades and changes included fountains, additional trees for shade in the summer and advertising columns marked with facts about Elvis, according to Friedberg’s town website.
Over the years, thousands of U.S. soldiers passed through the Friedberg area, but the Army’s presence came to an end in 2007 when Ray Barracks was closed during the post-Cold War drawdown.
Friedberg, Germany, where Elvis Presley was stationed at Ray Barracks in the late 1950s, has put up crosswalk lights in celebration of its connection to the King. At Elvis Presley Platz, the pedestrian lights show iconic images of Elvis. A red-colored Elvis singing on the mic means stop.
AARON KNOWLES/STARS AND STRIPES