This year’s annual Tulip Time festival was perhaps the nicest I can remember. The tulips were more gorgeous than any year I recall with almost all of the tulip beds peaking at just the right time and a few that were still starting to bloom. They were absolutely gorgeous!
For the fourth straight year Wendy and I got in costume to portray our little town’s founding couple, Dominie (that’s Dutch for “Pastor”) H.P. and Mareah Scholte. We spent each morning standing in front of the Scholte House museum welcoming visitors and then strolled the streets having our picture taken by countless visitors. We rode in the parades each afternoon. An intense Iowa thunderstorm, complete with Tornado warning, washed out the Thursday evening parade and festivities. Otherwise, the weather for the weekend was perfect.
We typically got out of costume once the afternoon parade was over. It was our chance to enjoy some grub from our favorite food stands, have a pint at the pub, and visit with friends.
Along with Tulip Time activities, we also hosted a bunch of family who came to town. Wendy’s mom and Aunt Linda stayed with us Thursday night. Uncle Brad and Aunt Barb stayed with us Friday and Saturday nights. Suzanna also came down Saturday and ended ups spending the night. My parents and sister Jody came down for the fun on Saturday and then returned home (with an armful of goodies from the Jaarsma bakery). By late Saturday afternoon Wendy I were pretty worn out. We bowed out of the final parade on Saturday night. Our friends Kevin and Linda, along with Suzanna, joined us on the patio to celebrate another wonderful Tulip Time.
Our annual selfie with Harry who plays with the DMCS band in the parade.
Our perch on the porch of the Scholte House Museum.
Dominie Scholte was a big supporter of Civil War vets. I took this shot with some guys portraying Civil War soldiers at the festival.
Our friend Brian (the Tulip Time “Crier”).
A selfie with the Burgermeister!
Hangin’ in Sinterklaas in this historical village.
The week after my birthday and the first weekend of May is really all about Pella’s Tulip Time Festival. For several years Wendy and I were regularly a part of a production that our community theatre, Union Street Players, produced for the thousands of visitors to our town. USP stopped doing Tulip Time productions a few years back and Wendy and I admittedly took a respite from volunteering for a few years. Guilt would set in as we wandered up to the square from our house, just a block away. We vowed that we needed to get in costume and volunteer. It takes a not-so-small army of volunteers to make this thing work, and at some point it would be time to play our parts once again. Ironic that we’re more involved now that we moved far away from our prime property just off the square.
Last year was the year to dive in. We volunteered to portray our town’s founders for the annual three day event, roles that we’ve played on stage multiple times. Last year we were in costume for 12-13 hours straight all three days, but discovered that it was a little much. The 1860s fashion was a little overwhelming to don all day. So, this year we vowed to do things a little differently.
Weather for the festival this year was pretty stellar. Thursday was sunny and relatively cool. Friday was the hot day with temps reaching near 90. Saturday was cooler, much more humid, and hazy. There was a brief sprinkle during the afternoon parade and an intermittent light rain during the evening parade, but the sun made regular appearances in between..
We’re just wild about Harry!
Brush with greatness. Our friend, Shanae who was on the Tulip Court this year.
We spent our mornings outside the Scholte House Museum greeting visitors and talking a few confused passers-by into giving the museum a try. And, we got our pictures taken somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,344,682 times. The most fun were the wandering gaggles of foreign visitors who would, as a group, whip out roughly a dozen or six cameras at the same time. Then, various members of the group would take turns running up to stand with us while cameras, cell phones, and iPads were hoisted like paparazzi next to the red carpet. Wendy said her face hurt from all the smiling! 😉
We took a brief break for lunch around noon and continued our duty outside the Scholte House until around 2:00 in the afternoon. We would then wander back across town in the early afternoon, stopping every 5.34 feet for another picture. I’m not sure how many international dialects I heard saying “One…Two…Three!”
Courtesy of Designer Images
Our friends Shane and Olivia Burch.
Courtesy of Designer Images
Courtesy of Designer Images
Waiting for our horse.
By 2:30 we were in our places to be picked up for the afternoon parade. Our horse drawn carriage (refurbished this year and sporting a beautiful sign) was actually pulled by the Tulip Queen’s horse. So we would sit behind the Historical Village and wait for the Queen to make her pilgrimage through the parade. The horse would quickly be switched from the Queen’s luxurious ride to our humble little four seater. It was rather comical getting Wendy in her HUGE hooped skirt to squeeze into the back seat of a carriage that had been designed for much smaller people. I joked that there wasn’t enough room for Wendy, her dress, and me. We would then take back streets to the beginning of the parade route and pray that we made it on time. We actually made it five out of the six parades this year.
It was fascinating to watch the crowds at each parade. They shift and change. The Thursday afternoon crowd is filled with seasoned citizens who arrived on one of an army of buses from around the Midwest. Thursday is always the lightest day from the sheer number of humans, and the Thursday evening parade feels like mostly locals with their families and visitors. Friday is the hybrid crowd. There are still a number of bus tour visitors, but there’s a growing number of diverse visitors from all over. By Friday evening, the after-work, weekend crowd had fully descended for a picture perfect Iowa night. The parade route on Friday evening was packed. Saturday is the crowd crazy day. The sea of humanity is varied, colorful, and a ton of fun. The Saturday afternoon parade had people packed deep the entire length of the parade route.
Our treat after a hot afternoon parade… a rest in the Heineken Loft.
With Madison and Matt at the Heineken Loft in the Pella Opera House.
Hanging with Mom Hall at Gma VH’s apartment.
The Roose crew visited on Friday.
After the afternoon parade it was time to get out of costume and enjoy being Tom and Wendy for a while. The difference between Tom & Wendy as Henry & Mareah Scholte and Tom & Wendy as Tom & Wendy Vander Well is quite a contrast, to be sure. On Thursday afternoon I had forgotten something in the Historical Society’s Curatorial Office where we’d changed back into our mild-mannered civilian selves. I returned to the office where a number of workers from the Historical Society were gathered in any number of official duties. One young woman who works for the Society thought I was a tourist and said to me, “I’m sorry sir, this house is not part of the tour!”
She was a big confused and taken aback when I simply smiled and said, “I know,” and walked right past her into the back room where we’d stored our belongings. When I returned she was still standing there looking confused and bit frustrated. As I passed by her I smiled and said, “You don’t recognize me out of my Dominie costume, do you?” It was then that it dawned on her who I was. I wish I had a picture of the shocked look on her face, before she began laughing and apologizing.
Our afternoons incognito began at the Heineken Loft in the Pella Opera House visiting with friends and relaxing in the air conditioned loft while we watched the festival pass by on the streets below. Then it was off to the food stands to try one of the many tempting options afforded by the food vendors at Tulip Time.
This year’s culinary surprises were the “Double Dutch” which Wendy had on Thursday night, and the Romanian Sausage sandwich I had on Saturday. The Double Dutch is a quarter pound hamburger topped with Gouda cheese, which then gets topped with a large slice of Pella bologna. Sounds a bit strange, I know. Wendy loved it. I only had a bit, but had to admit it was pretty delicious. Our friends from Pella’s Greek Orthodox Church sell a Romanian sausage sandwich. The recipe came from the the grandmother of one of the people in the parish and it had been highly recommended by our trustworthy City Council representative, Larry Peterson. Again, I was surprised at how good it was. Not something I would have ordered otherwise.
Of course, we also had to get our annual taste of the Tulip Time staples. Stroopwaffels, Poffertjes, Dutch Letters, corn dog, tenderloin…. You get the picture. Regular diet resumes sometime today (after we finish up a few of the leftovers!).
The Iowa Craft Beer team set up to serve in the Cellar’s converted garage.
Courtyard entrance to The Cellar.
Dinner in the courtyard of The Cellar Peanut Pub.
On Thursday night we took our supper from the food stands to the Cellar Peanut Pub’s courtyard. The Iowa Craft Beer truck was set up at the back of the Cellar’s garage and was serving a special wheat ale from Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville that is made with wheat milled by Pella’s Vermeer Windmill. Everything the Cellar served on their 50+ taps during Tulip Time was from local Iowa breweries. It was a great addition to the Tulip Time offerings.
About 8:00 we were back at the Historical Village getting back into costume for the 8:30 parade. When the parade was over we would quick get to our car and try to navigate the back streets home before the parade was completely over.
It was good to see family and friends, as always. Taylor came to town late on Thursday and was supposed to join us again on Saturday until some kind of intestinal crud struck her. Madison and her boyfriend, Matt, arrived on Saturday morning for a cup of coffee together before Wendy and I headed into town. Madison had fun introducing Matt to everything Pella and we joined for some enjoyable conversation at the Heineken Loft in the late afternoon, then debriefed at home late into the night. Today was supposed to be kind of a 50th birthday celebration with the girls, but with Taylor down those plans got theoretically rained out just as my Cubs-centric birthday bash got rained out in both Chicago and Des Moines last weekend. I guess, once again, “there is no joy in Mudville.” C’est la vie.
Today is rest, recuperation, and reentry into routine. It’s been a fun week. Once again I shake my head in amazement at the unique community we’re blessed to call home.
Valentine’s Day for us was a wonderful and quiet dinner at home. We love our kitchen and our dining room, so it seems a little silly to spend money fighting the crowds at a restaurant when we can spend time together making a special meal. We opened an amazing Australian Shiraz, grilled some steaks and Wendy whipped up a simple but succulent dessert.
Things around Vander Well Manor have stilled in the past few weeks. First, Suzanna headed back to school. Then, I helped pack up Taylor and move her into the Catholic Worker Community in Des Moines. She has been living with the community and volunteering service there part time for a few months. The community chose to welcome her as a full-time resident. She will work part-time at the art store in the Drake neighborhood, is doing some ghost writing for a friend, and is going to work on a creative project God has put on her heart.
I have, in previous posts, written that God calls us to steward our children, not to be their masters. I will admit that as I toured her new home there was a paternal part of my head vigorously shaking. Seriously, if Martin Scorsese wanted to film a movie about 1960’s hippie-commune-counter culture they could just bring the cameras into Taylor’s new place and start filming. It’s a ready-made set. It suddenly struck me that my daughter is a Bohemian. Having said that, she is blissfully happy, feeling a sense of purpose, and who am I to say that this isn’t totally God’s purpose for her. In fact, my heart tells me she’s right where she is supposed to be. Far out, man.
Madison continues to fly for SkyWest (United Express), though she has been applying for sales jobs in the cosmetics industry. She turned down a job offer in South Carolina. Once again, a part of my paternal head was shaking at the thought of turning down a perfectly legit job offer (especially in this economy), but she has a job and it’s becoming clear that her heart is in the Rockies. Dad is learning a whole new level of letting go.
Madison has applied for small apartment in Colorado Springs and is opting to commit herself in Colorado Springs for the time being. When she’s not flying the friendly skies for United Express she’s been a rep for Derma Doctor at Ulta stores in the Colorado Springs and Denver area.
Work has been keeping me very busy. In fact, I’ve been feeling a little weary. If regular readers have noticed that I’ve been missing an occasional morning post it’s because I have. Between the busy and feeling a little sick I have been trying to catch up on sleep and my morning quiet time has been sacrificed.
At work, I have been trying to get new projects off the ground, wrap up some delayed 2015 projects, and working on marketing efforts to bring in some new business. Ugh. Every day the task list seems to have added more new items than the number of items I had checked off that day.
I spent the earlier part of this week in Texas working with a client. I left Sunday afternoon and missed the Super Bowl as I was making a three-leg flight to Laredo. I then ended up in San Antonio and flew home on Wednesday, arriving in Pella just before 1:00 a.m. They were a long few days, but at least they were relatively warm days. I even finished a little earlier than planned, so I stopped for a few minutes at the McNay to sun myself in the courtyard before flying home.
I had a short night’s sleep as I had been invited to be the chapel speaker at Pella Christian High on Thursday morning. It was an honor to be asked and I enjoyed the experience.
On Thursday evening, Wendy and I donned our costumes to portray Pella’s founding couple, Dominie (Pastor) H.P. Scholte and his wife Mareah, at the Scholte House Museum’s 2nd annual Valentine’s Day Dinner. We greeted the 30 or so guests as they arrived. I gave a short welcoming message and prayed for the meal. We then enjoyed a five-course meal and were pleased to sit next to Dr. James Dahm and his wife. The Dahm’s had previously owned our cute little house on Columbus Street and so we enjoyed talking about the house and the neighborhood.
The weather has been cold and snowy, and we are so ready for the spring like temperatures (in the 50s!) that are forecast for next weekend. Wendy and I scuttled a planned trip to Des Moines today because of the 3-4 inches of snow that fell this morning. Ugh! Why did I blow the driveway off the other day?
Oh well. Don’t worry. Be happy. The Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next weekend. We’re almost there!
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”Acts 9:19b-21 (NRSV)
There has been a small yet intense debate among local historians and traditionalists in our little town over recent months. The debate concerns the wife of our town’s founder or, more specifically, the spelling of her name. The town has always held that her name was spelled “Mareah,” but archival evidence suggest that her name was always spelled “Maria” on legal documents and the spelling change seems to have occurred in her adult years. It is now believed that the change occurred around the time of a major shift in her life: the death of her husband and her subsequent marriage to a younger man who was the age of her son. And so, the debate quietly continues regarding how we should spell her name today.
The rather meaningless debate has been a quiet reminder to me that things change. We all go through dramatic changes in life. Life’s journey can take abrupt and unexpected turns, especially when you’re on a faith journey.
Today’s chapter chronicles one of the most dramatic and unexpected turns in history. Saul of Tarsus was a radical and conservative Jewish leader intent on persecuting, imprisoning, and/or killing any man or woman who claimed to be a follower of Jesus. Then, on his way to round up some Jesus followers in the town of Damascus, Jesus reveals Himself to the zealous persecutor. In one dramatic moment, Saul’s life takes an abrupt u-turn.
Things change. Saul would become Paul. His life would never be the same. The persecutor of Jesus followers would unexpectedly become their greatest champion. For the rest of his life he would push himself to incredible physical and spiritual limits, ceaselessly suffer the persecution he’d once afflicted on others, and constantly proclaim that Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be. Paul would change the course of human history.
Things change. People change. It was at the core of everything that Jesus taught. Fishermen became fishers of men. Enemies become friends. Hatred is transformed into love. Anger and bitterness yield to grace and kindness. Sin is washed away by forgiveness. Darkness is pierced by Light. Death is swallowed up by Life. Saul the executioner becomes Paul the evangelist.
With Pella Historical Executive Director, Kathy Miller
Taking a break on the curb.
Some of the tulips made it.
We did a lot of walking (Wendy in very uncomfortable footwear!).
The Freligh’s let us park in our old driveway and take a few pics in the back yard.
Wendy as Maria Scholte at the Scholte House Museum
Dutch Dancing with cousin Kathryn. Van Tuyl.
Pre-coronation with Megan Atkins.
Wendy with Lisa Vande Lune.
Our surrey gets hitched.
Boys playing at the Pella Historical Village.
I don’t think Maria would have done this.
A view through Maria’s parasol fringe.
A post parade refresher with Chadwick at the Pella Opera House.
The Vande Lune cheese cart.
Dutch dancers at the Tulip Toren.
The Dominie Dutch dancing in the streets.
Wendy with Cyndi Atkins.
Madison Kate came home and gave my top hat a try!
Enjoying the parade.
With our friend Cat Rebelsky.
Chad and Camille.
Wendy with Tulip Queen Eleanor Witt
The Tulip Queen’s coronation on the Tulip Tower.
Wendy talking to our carriage driver.
Some sights at Tulip Time are stranger than others.
The queen’s attendant.
Wendy and Becky at Pella Opera House.
Madison with the Harry and Kev.
Wendy with the Tulip Court.
With the Roose’s.
Escorting Megan Atkins, with her mom Cyndi.
Dutch Treats from Jaarsma’s
Wendy with cousin Kathryn Van Tuyl.
Our carriage for each of the six parades.
Tom and the Roose boys at Pella Opera House
Dutch Dancing with cousin Kathryn. Van Tuyl.
Wendy with Cyndi Atkins.
Pre-coronation with Tulip Court member, Megan Atkins.
The attendants playing with Queen Eleanor’s train.
Wendy with the Roose ladies at Pella Opera House.
Wendy with Olivia Burch.
Maria in her garden.
Playing Dominie H.P. Scholte & Maria at the Pella historical Village
A Dominie & Maria selfie in the Scholte House Museum
Got to be honorary dad to escort Megan for the Tulip Court
Our niece Emma at the Scholte House Museum
Waiting for the parade to start.
Wendy and I are enjoying a much needed rest after three very full days of Pella Tulip Time. We have played Pella, Iowa’s founders in three different stage productions and were asked by the Pella Historical Society to get in costume and portray the couple for the annual festival. We rode in a carriage in each of the six parades, had our picture taken countless times and made appearances at the Pella Historical Village and Scholte House Museum.
It was fun to talk to people about the Scholtes and the history of Pella, and to answer many questions about Pella and our costumes. Women, in particular, were enthralled with Wendy’s period costume and little girls made Wendy feel like Disney princess. During one of the parades a little girl pointed at Wendy and shouted, “LOOK! It’s the PRETTY LADY!” Wendy even had a young man of about five blow her a kiss.
The heavy dress with all the layers of period underthings did make for a lot of heat for Wendy. Fortunately, the days were very temperate with highs in the 70s. The worst part was her tall lace boots which made her feet very uncomfortable throughout the day despite all of her attempts to cushion the consequences.
My folks came on Thursday and brought Madison who had flown into Des Moines the day before. We had fun meeting friends in between parades at the Pella Opera House where we enjoyed the air conditioning, the padded seats, and the refreshments. Madison stayed with us Thursday night and then headed back to Colorado on Friday night as she was on call over the weekend.
Our friend, Megan Atkins, was on the Tulip Court this year. Megan’s dad passed away back in 2010 and Megan has honored me over the years by asking me to be honorary dad when school or other events called for father/daughter activities. I was so happy to get to escort her on Friday and again on Saturday with her mom, Cyndi, at the official coronation ceremony on the square.
We are already thinking about next year, though we are thankful that we have another 362 days to rest up!
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance.If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom; then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs.'” Ezekiel 46:16-17 (NIV)
This weekend is our town’s annual Tulip Time festival in which we celebrate those brave Dutch immigrants who braved unspeakable hardship to carve out a life for themselves on the Iowa prairie back in 1847. Tens of thousands of visitors will descend on Pella over the weekend to see the tulips, to see locals dressed in Dutch costumes complete with wooden shoes, to watch the parades, and to enjoy Dutch treats from a plethora of vendors. It’s quite an event. If you’ve never been, then you need to put it on your bucket list.
As part of the festival this year, Wendy and I have been asked to don period costumes and portray our town’s founder, Dominie (Dutch for “Reverend”) H.P. Scholte and his wife Maria. We will hang out in the Scholte House museum and historical village to greet guests and will ride in horse drawn wagon in all the parades.
Being a history buff and having played “the Dominie” in a handful of stage productions, I continue to do quite a bit of research about Scholte and his wife. They were amazing people, and our little town’s on-going success has their fingerprints all over it. The Dominie was also a stubborn Dutchman, a fierce individualist, and a lightning rod who stirred controversy throughout his life. He was wealthy, and when he came to the U.S. his wealth converted from Dutch guilders to Iowa acres. Even in death, his inheritance and the distribution of land was the source of controversy and conflict.
Inheritance is a tricky business fraught with the potential for all sorts of miscommunication and emotional entanglements that result in hurt feelings and family squabbles. I would dare say that there is not a culture in this world that does not experience the pain of conflict over inheritance. This morning I was reminded of the Dominie as I read the rules given through Ezekiel regarding inheritance of land in Israel. The Israeli royal could only give land to children. If it was given to a servant, then on a prescribed year the land reverted to the family.
That reminded me of this from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Today, I am thankful for the many ways we receive inheritance. I’m thankful for forebears who founded an amazing community that thrives 168 years later. I’m thankful for ancestors who carved a path and provided for my success and abundant life in a plethora of ways. I’m thankful for Jesus, who made provision for me (and any who would choose to receive it) to be adopted in God’s family as a co-heir to enjoy the full rights, privilege, blessing and inheritance thereof.
An early photo of the Scholte’s house. It was the first house built in Pella and now stands as a museum on the north side of the square.
The tables are set for a long, lovely evening!
Think her name is spelled wrong? See the footnote of my post.
Before dinner I got to see and hold H.P. Scholte’s cane, a gift to him from Abraham Lincoln at his inauguration.
Wendy and I have played Dominie (Dutch for “Pastor”) H.P. Scholte and his wife Maria* on stage on several occasions. This year, the Pella Historical Society has asked us to reprise the roles for Pella’s Tulip Time festivities and this past Thursday we had a coming out of sorts as we donned the costumes and played host to almost 40 people at the Historical Society’s 1st annual Valentine’s Dinner. The dinner was held in the Scholte House, the Dominie and Maria’s home which was the first house built in Pella and is now a museum on the north side of Pella’s town square.
Before the dinner, Wendy and I stopped by the museum to take a look around and chat with the staff who were busy preparing for the dinner. “The Dominie” (as Scholte is referred to in these parts) was an abolitionist, a supporter/friend of Abraham Lincoln, and attended Lincoln’s inauguration. I got to see and hold the cane which Lincoln gave Scholte as a gift. Very cool.
Wendy and stood in the foyer and greeted all of the guests to our home as they arrived, and chatted with the guests over pre-dinner cocktails. I got to welcome everyone and say grace before we dined. We enjoyed an amazing multi-course meal catered by Central College. The table conversation was wonderful and it was almost 10:30 p.m. before we got home that night.
Many thanks to Kathy Miller and the crew at Pella Historical Society for letting Wendy and I “play” and participate in such a wonderful evening! Look for the Dominie and Maria at Tulip Time!
*Some Pella natives with an eye for detail may notice and question the spelling of “Maria” which has traditionally been spelled “Mareah.” The Historical Society has recently found evidence that Mrs. Scholte did originally spell her name “Maria.” Local historians now believe that a change in the spelling of her name coincided with the change in her life after the death of the Dominie when she married (a much younger) Robert Beard, perhaps at the suggestion of her children.