On Thursday, two days before the 90th Tulip Time was to begin, two pairs of giant wooden shoes were stolen out of Holland’s Centennial Park.
They were part of the “Klompen Garden” art competition, new to Tulip Time this year. Forty-five artists from West Michigan decorated the shoes however they liked, and the shoes were placed in city parks and in the tulip beds in downtown Holland.
On Friday morning, Tulip Time announced that both pair of missing klompen were recovered by Holland police late Thursday night.
When a Tulip Time employee was setting up for another event in Centennial Park on Thursday morning, they noticed there was a sign for a klompen pair but no wooden shoes to be found. After investigating further, Tulip Time staff realized two pairs from the park were missing, each located on the corners of the park.
The stolen shoes are “Bloem Kus,” created by Claire Miller, featuring a turquoise background with orange painted tulips; and “Klompen van Delftware,” by Heidi Weller, featuring a white background with traditional blue delft patterns.
The pieces were not damaged beyond repair, said Simone Weithers, Tulip Time communications manager. After some touch-ups by the artists, the Klompen will be returned to Centennial Park.
Holland police Capt. Bob Buursma said a night shift officer found the klompen.
“It didn’t take long for the information to start spreading around,” Buursma said. “We started getting some tips, with photos that had been seen on social media with kids standing with themselves in the shoes.”
The shoes were found at a neighbor’s house of the kids in the photos. The neighbors were cooperative with police and the shoes were recovered.
“It didn’t take long to figure that out and track them down,” Buursma said.
The pairs are still part of the art competition. Voting began Wednesday.
Buursma said it will be up to Tulip Time whether to press charges against the klompen thiefs. In a statement on Thursday, festival officials said they were more interested in getting the shoes back than prosecuting the crime.