Tulip Time Announces 2023 Parade Grand Marshals
HOLLAND, Mich. – Tulip Time Festival, Inc. is happy to announce the 2023 grand marshals for its’ parades. The Gentex Kinderparade co-grand marshals will be ODC Network and Gentex. The Quality Car Wash Volksparade co-grand marshals will be Frank Kraai and Judge Juanita Bocanegra.
Continuing with tradition, the 94th annual Tulip Time festival will feature two celebratory parades: the Kinderparade and the Volksparade. Each year, Grand Marshals are selected to lead the parade in recognition of their leadership in our community. Grand Marshals for the 2023 Kinderparade are ODC Network and Gentex. Grand Marshals for the 2023 Volksparade are Mr. Frank Kraai and The Honorable Juanita Bocanegra.
This year’s Grand Marshals carry themes of vision, education, and mentorship woven through all four stories.
Gwen Auwerda, Tulip Time’s Executive Director, said, “We are thrilled to recognize the importance of education, specifically preschool education, and the partnership between ODC Network and Gentex. Frank Kraai is a treasure in this community, and we are honored to celebrate him and his contributions over the years. He had an immense impact on students when he was a teacher at West Ottawa, and Juanita Bocanegra is one of those students.”
“Tulip Time is a celebration of the Holland community. The festival is an opportunity for local non-profits, businesses, government, and education to showcase all that makes Holland the thriving, hard-working, innovative, unique, nature-rich city that it is,” said Travis Williams, CEO of ODC Network.
“ODC Network and Gentex are partners to provide on-site, nature-based, subsidized childcare to Gentex employees. Gentex Discovery Early Childcare Center is an innovative approach to employer-based childcare. We are thrilled to be a Grand Marshal alongside our partners in childcare innovation for the 2023 Tulip Time Festival,” Redick said.
Redick envisions Gentex Discovery Preschool will strengthen Holland’s workforce and develop future caretakers of our natural resources. He said, “Investing in affordable, accessible, and reliable quality childcare fosters economic growth and retains and attracts talent. Quality nature-based early childhood education is critical for a child's social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development. When we teach the love of community and environmental appreciation, our children are more likely to take care of our waterways and greenways and devote their talents to Holland as adults.”
Groundbreaking for Gentex Discovery Preschool is scheduled for spring 2023 with the center’s grand opening in 2024. Gentex believes the on-site childcare will make West Michigan an even more desirable place to work and live.
A statement from Gentex said, “It feels great to share the role of Grand Marshal with the ODC Network. We are excited to partner with ODC Network to remove the daycare barrier to employment in the county as well as offer a nature-based education to our employees’ children. The lack of childcare options and the high cost of enrollment is a barrier to employment for people living in Holland. Offering discounted childcare rates and extended hours to Gentex employees will provide more opportunities and flexibility to working parents in this area.”
“Tulip Time is a unique event that celebrates heritage and new beginnings at the same time. The festival’s long-running roots in Holland make it a time-honored tradition,” Gentex said.
The Kinderparade will be Thursday, May 11 at 1:30 pm. It features elementary students in traditional Dutch costumes and celebrates Dutch heritage from arts to agriculture.
Mr. Frank Kraai is a Holland man through and through. Growing up as a kid in town, he recalls skating on frozen ponds in the winter. He graduated from Hope College and went on to be a teacher and principal in West Ottawa. After retirement, Kraai was surprised to learn that he had more than $1 million in assets. Remembering the fun of winter skating, Kraai gave that $1 million to the city of Holland to build an ice rink downtown.
“I am honored to be sharing the role of the Grand Marshal with Juanita. I was fortunate to meet Juanita when she was a young student at Sheldon Woods. She was a delightful student who valued her education. She was a quiet young lady, who demonstrated a strong desire to learn. She would often help translate my lessons into Spanish to help our migrant students. She was a joy to have in the classroom, as she had such a love of learning, that I knew she would be extremely successful,” Kraai said.
“When I think of Holland, I think of Tulip Time, which is a magical celebration, highlighting our children’s parades, bands playing, choirs singing, and the Dutch Dancers dancing throughout the city. This is all supported by our precious Volunteers, generous donors, and our community and business partners. We are so appreciative of their commitment for Tulip Time,” Kraai said.
Speaking of the heritage and importance of education and mentorship, Kraai said, “One of the greatest gifts we can give our young people is to model, nurture and inspire them to engage in their community.”
Jude Juanita Bocanegra was one of those young people who flourished under the influence of Kraai. Bocanegra is the first Hispanic judge in the 58th District Court. She grew up in a migrant family that traveled seasonally to Michigan for agricultural work until they decided to settle in Holland.
“Frank Kraai was my 5th-grade teacher, and he played a significant role in what my life is today. He helped to transform me from an average migrant student into a straight-A student who believed everything and anything is achievable if one is willing to put in the hard work and effort required. It is truly an honor and privilege to share the Grand Marshal role with him!” Bocanegra said.
“To me personally, Tulip Time means the beginning of my roots here in Holland because we arrived in March and by May I was marching in my first Tulip Time parade. Tulip Time represents the rich Dutch heritage culture in our community and many of the great things Holland has to offer its residents and visitors,” Bocanegra said.
“Mentors and mentorship are crucial to developing strong leaders. It brings out the best in people by helping us to see and polish the flaws that we all have in one area or another. When you hear constructive criticism from a mentor, you listen to learn and improve, not to respond in a defensive manner. We listen with open minds as mentees and we provide guidance, support, and advice with a genuine interest in the success of others as mentors,” Bocanegra said.
“I never thought I would participate this way during our Tulip Time festival. This great community welcomed my family and I many years ago and continued to support me over the years. Being allowed to share this honor with Frank Kraai feels like the final seal on that adoption process,” Bocanegra said.
The Volksparade will be Saturday, May 13 at 2 pm. Many local businesses and nonprofits feature in floats and musical performances.
Experience Tulip Time at the 94th Festival, May 6 – 14, 2023. Detailed program and event information for Tulip Time Festival 2023 and tickets are available at www.TulipTime.com.