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In 1847 European immigrants were making their way to the New World in search of religious freedom and the opportunity to build new lives. One of them, Rev. Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte, had visions of a new American colony modeled after his native Holland. When he arrived on the southern shore of Lake Macatawa in February, 1847 with some 60 followers, the 35-year old churchman realized he had found the ideal place to fulfill his mission. |
Holland's growth continued steadily in the ensuing years and by 1852 it boasted seven stores. Holland had its own community-owned sailing ship, the A.E. Knickerbocker, used to transport goods to and from Chicago. When the U.S. government refused to fund the creation of a shipping channel from Lake Michigan to Lake Macatawa, residents dug it themselves.
By the late 1920s, Holland had grown in size and economic strength, but its population was still 90 percent Dutch. Community leaders saw the marketability of this singular colony with an intriguing Old World flavor and established an annual festival to capitalize on it. Tulip Time continues today as one of the Midwest's most popular community events, drawing 500,000 people from all over the world over for a ten-day period.
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