This Southern Icon Helps People Cross the Street in One European Town
Pedestrians are “all shook up.”
The town of Friedberg, Germany has lights at their crosswalks just like most other places, all around the world. But the pedestrian signals in this German town don’t read “walk” and “don’t walk” like you’d find on a street corner here in the states. In some places, you might see a silhouette of a walking man that lights up green for go and red for stop. That too, won’t be what you see in Friedberg. Not anymore.
This past December, town officials erected three very special pedestrian traffic lights. The new lights pay homage to one of the town’s most notable former inhabitants, Elvis Presley. When walkers need to pause their blue suede shoes, a red silhouette of Elvis behind a microphone appears. When it is safe to shimmy and shake across that crosswalk, a green Elvis in his classic hip-swiveling pose appears.
Why this German tribute to a Southern icon? Long before he was all shook up in his white sequin jumpsuit, Elvis donned an army uniform and was stationed at the U.S. Army’s Ray Barracks in Friedberg. The Tupelo-born, Memphis bred heartthrob lived in nearby Bad Nauheim during his assignment from October 1958 to March 1960. The town of Bad Nauheim has cashed in on this famous former resident and utilize his enduring popularity to bring in the tourists. You can go see (but not tour) the house where he lived and make plans to attend the annual European Elvis Festival. Bad Nauheim has welcomed Elvis fans from near and far since 2002 to pay “homage to the King of Rock 'n' Roll with well-known cover bands, cinema sessions, an old-timer parade and much more,” as the website states.
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So if you find yourself in Friedberg, be sure to pay attention to Elvis before you cross the street. You don’t want to be doing the jailhouse walk instead of the jailhouse rock.