I love living in Holland. No, not in the Netherlands – though it might as well be! It's a relatively large town on Lake Michigan, nicknamed "Tulip City" for the hundreds of thousands of tulips that bloom here. The conservatism and neatly numbered streets are also suggestive of the strongly Dutch culture, not to mention all the Dutch restaurants and historic sites.
Holland was founded in 1847 as the "Holland Kolonie". It attracted a steady stream of immigrants until 1940, when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and prevented its people from crossing the Atlantic. Since then, we have proudly upheld our heritage, and we display it annually in our famous Tulip Festival. Every Spring, our downtown area draws tourists from all over the world; they come to see the stunning variety of tulips, watch the parades, bring their kids to Kinderplaats ("kid-place") to get their faces painted, and snap pictures of the Dutch dancers. These are mainly high school and college age guys and girls who dress up in authentic Dutch costumes and perform a three-part dance in groups on the streets. They are easily distinguished by their funny hats and noisy wooden shoes (which shop owners kindly ask them not to wear inside), and are always ready with a smile when tourists hail them with cameras and questions. If you miss Tulip Time and still want to see the Dutch dancers in action, Holland features two more permanent businesses, Windmill Island and Dutch Village, that offer tours, food, and entertainment for several months out of the year.
Besides the revenue from tulip-seekers, Holland has another source of pride: Hope College, a liberal arts school associated with the Reformed church. Hope students are very well received in the community, and they help make it a vibrant and interesting place. The city does have an excellent music and art culture, and a distinct "college town" feel.
Holland really has something for everyone – top-notch retirement homes and many schools, churches, restaurants, shops, parks, and lovely neighborhoods, not to mention gorgeous beaches and hiking spots. I highly recommend coming for a visit, no matter what season. Make sure you come for at least a whole day – there are so many things to see and enjoy, and so many friendly people to share them with you!
Hope to see you soon!
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