The tulips are coming out of the ground in Pella. That means a spring time tradition is almost here. Tulip Time is four weeks away. The annual festival brings thousands to town to see the beautiful blooms and Dutch traditions.
Tiptoeing through tulips is one of Randy Sikkema's favorite past times. He says, "It's a beautiful plant, and it's a symbol of Holland actually."
He and many other volunteers planted about 300,000 bulbs around Pella in October. Now, he's watching and waiting as the tulips wake-up from a long winter's nap. He says, "We need a little moisture yet, and we need some warm nights. It's still freezing at night, so that slows down the growth a little bit."
The tulips were already in full bloom this time last year. The mild winter and early spring put the plants six weeks ahead of schedule. It helped bring visitors to town throughout April. But, numbers were down for Tulip Time. Only about ten percent of the flowers were still blooming the first weekend of May.
Sikkema says, “I think we're more normal this year." He says Tulip Time should be full of color this year. He says the peak period for viewing will run about three weeks from late April to mid-May. Sikkema says, "It's still the weather. It's still the rain and the sunshine, when it quits freezing is what it boils down to."
Organizers say they're thrilled the tulips seem to be on track. They say they have plenty of fun, including some new attractions, for visitors to enjoy this year. Susan Canfield says, "We're going to have on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 and 10 some Dutch demos where during that time there will be a session on sweet treats, so you'll be learning about Dutch chocolates." Visitors will get to sample the sweet treats, dress like a Dutchman and take a tour of the tulips, led by Sikkema.
Tulip Time runs may 2nd, 3rd and 4th this year in Pella.