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The Tulip Time Volunteer

A story on NBC’s Nightly News tonight highlighted the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan. Lester Holt referred to the festival as “one of America’s most breathtaking celebrations of the season”. This small town expands from its 33,000 residents to over 500,000 for this week of events. It’s a magnificent week of celebration of the Dutch heritage with 5 million tulips in bloom and over 1000 volunteers involved throughout the year in planning.  Volunteers plant tulips in the fall, march in parades, Dutch dance in authentic costume, host multiple venues and fulfill a thousand other details! This event involves all ages from young children to senior citizens. It has been held every year in mid-May since 1929.

An event this size requires meticulous attention to specifics and hundreds of discussions for this 7-day event. No doubt many of the volunteers have served for many years. But each year, hundreds of individuals, families and school students volunteer hours and hours for this event. Why?

In a nutshell—they understand the vision of the event—sharing the fullness of their Dutch culture with all who come to Holland.

I love that. I love it that the organization has sustained this event for 88 years and it continues to attract thousands. I love it that hundreds of high school students commit hours weekly in practice to Klompen Dance from January to mid-May. I love the fact that the volunteers wear their Tulip Time shirts with pride and are ready to answer any questions about their town. I love it that families with small children “street scrub” in a parade and the Holland Dutch band members wear their uncomfortable wooden shoes for 3 parades.

All of this reminds me that as Christians we have a great birthright. I would like to believe that we are as equally passionate about sharing our faith to those who don’t know Jesus. I would like to hope that it’s easy for us to recruit volunteers within our churches to resource all that’s necessary throughout the year. And we need to remember to thank and celebrate those who give so much of their time to ministries.

Like the Dutch, we have a very worthy vision calling us to serve. Often heard in Holland, “Go Dutch!”  I’ll modify—“Go Christians!”


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