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Grand marshals named for Tulip Time parades

By Lori Timmer/The Holland Sentinel • Apr 20, 2019 at 6:00 PM

Tulip Time Inc. has announced its selections for the grand marshals to lead the festival’s 90th anniversary parades.

“We try to relate (the marshals) to the theme of the parade,” said Susan Zalnis of Tulip Time Inc. when explaining the selection process. She added that they also look for people who have served the community.

West Michigan’s nationally-known meteorologist, Ginger Zee of “Good Morning America,” will lead the Metal Flow Volksparade on Wednesday, May 8. Zee will also share highlights of the Tulip Time Festival with “Good Morning America” viewers on Wednesday morning.

Zee is the chief meteorologist at ABC News, reporting on the nation’s weather on GMA and across ABC News broadcasts and digital platforms. Prior to joining ABC News, Zee was a meteorologist at NBC station WMAQ-Channel 5 in Chicago, and was part of Storm Team 8 at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

In 1927, Miss Lida Rogers, a biology teacher at Holland High School, shared her vision of a flower festival and read the poem, “Come Down to Holland in Tulip Time” at a meeting of the Woman’s Literary Club.

In 1928, City Council, acted on this suggestion and purchased 100,000 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands. These bulbs were planted throughout the city, so in 1929, thousands of tulips bloomed, and Holland invited visitors to come see the tulips in May.

For Thursday’s Yanfeng/Johnson Controls Kinderparade the Grand Marshals will be descendants of Lida Rogers, Hannah Rogers Olechowicz and Joe Rogers, along with representatives of the Woman’s Literary Club.

“For the 90th anniversary, having descendants of Lida Rogers is a fun thing,” said Zalnis.

Holland’s Town Crier, John Karsten, will have the honor of leading Saturday’s Quality Car Wash Muziekparade. Karsten, Holland’s Town Crier for the last 40 years, is grand marshal for the largest parade of the 90th Tulip Time.

Karsten has announced he will be retiring from his role as Town Crier when the 2019 festival ends. Karsten’s reign as town crier began in 1979. Since then, he has delighted festival visitors, becoming as much a part of the festival as the tradition itself.

“For John, it’s the last parade of the last festival he is going to be the official Town Crier,” said Zalnis.

Karsten was born in the Netherlands in the province of Overijssel. He immigrated to the U.S. and by 1967, found his way to Holland where he was invited to participate in a Dutch Heritage Show. In 1979, he was asked to be Holland’s Town Crier, a role he enthusiastically accepted.

Town Criers have a long history. Hundreds of years ago, the Town Crier was essential to spreading the news. In those times, few could read and write, making the town crier the primary provider of the news. When reading and writing became more prevalent, the need for town criers faded. However, re-enactors are keeping the tradition alive.

Karsten is a former president of the American Guild of Town Criers. His wife Wieda is his escort as he competes in Town Crier competitions worldwide. This year, in honor of the 90th anniversary and his retirement, he will host the Tulip Time International Town Crier Competition. Town Criers from the U.S., Canada, England and The Netherlands, will compete for awards and prizes.

The competition will take place 2 p.m. Friday, May 10, at the Holland Civic Center.

This year, Tulip Time is offering several options for viewing the parades.

Parade Patio Seating will be just steps away from the action in the newly renovated Civic Center Marketside. Tickets include general admission to an indoor/outdoor street-level experience complete with chairs and a cash bar. Buffet lunch and concessions also will be available for additional purchase onsite. Doors open at 10am, with concessions/buffet/bar available at 11am.

Or you can enjoy the parade in the newly upgraded grandstand seating. General seating offers easy access and convenient viewing.

For more enhanced comfort, select premium seating that includes a flip down seat. Grandstand seating is located near both the Civic Center and Kollen Park, with tickets available through the Tulip Time office. Seating is limited. $16 for premium seats; $12 for general seating

To purchase tickets, request a brochure, or to obtain detailed program and event information, visit tuliptime.com.

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