While the American Bus Association ranks Holland’s Tulip Time Festival on par with Mardi Gras and the 84-year-old celebration has been named one of the World’s Top 20 Events (ifea.com), the city is garnering accolades of its own.
For the second year in a row, Holland took America in Bloom’s top spot nationwide in the 25,000-50,000 Population Category. It also ranked first over all competing cities in the Environmental Effort Criterion, placed within the Floral Display Criterion’s top four and won Best Community Garden Program.
“Winning the environmental award was a surprise — you don’t always know what the other arm is doing in your own city,” said City Greenhouse Operator Shelly DeVries, noting that efforts of Hope College, Holland Public Schools, the Holland Board of Public Works, the Macatawa Greenway and Energetx (local energy innovators) were spotlighted, among others. “This competition really lets you prove to yourself who you are.”
And, who you can be.
Modeled after successful programs in Canada and Europe, the non-profit America in Bloom (AIB) promotes nationwide beautification. A team of judges spends two days touring each competing city, judging it on multiple criterions. On-site mentoring and a detailed evaluation become a framework for improvement.
“We immediately began preparing for this year’s competition by putting the judges’ ideas on a grid and considering what we can accomplish,” said DeVries, who with Parks Department Supervisor Steve Zwiep helps further local progress through Holland in Bloom.