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Michigan city to memorialize Dutch immigrant characters Geertje and Cornelis

Holland honours 1847 founders

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HOLLAND, MI - Tulip Time Festival and the City of Holland are proud to be a part of bringing to Holland a permanent symbol of its founding heritage. The creation of the “Geertje and Cornelis” (Gert & Neil) bronze statues began in the summer of 2004 by local artist Billie Houtman Clark, a Hope College graduate. These life-size statues honour the history and heritage of Holland, Michigan. The sculptures will be placed on city property with a tentative unveiling scheduled for early spring.

Mayor Al McGeehan was thrilled when he saw a “preview of coming attractions,” the final clay version of the art just before their transport to the foundry. He found them “truly amazing.”

For Billie Clark it has been a great challenge and privilege to create these sculptures honoring Holland’s Dutch Heritage. She wishes the city of Holland and its “multitude of visitors” the enjoyment of Geertje and Cornelis for many years to come and hopes that the pair will be a lasting monument to the “courage, perseverance and Christian fortitude of our forbearers.”

In May 2005, Tulip Time and city officials announced a fundraising campaign with a goal of $50,000.00 for this worthy endeavour. Contributions to date have been strong and have allowed the project to move forward. There still is an opportunity for residents of the greater Holland area, and friends of Holland to contribute. According to Tamra Bouman, Executive Director of Tulip Time, this is yet another opportunity to preserve the long-standing heritage of the city which was founded by Rev. A.C. Van Raalte and his congregation in 1847. Tulip Time is grateful for the significant amount of financial support received to date, and looks forward to bringing this effort to a reality. The statues are “beautiful,” she said.

Donations can be made through outright contribution to the statue fund, or by participating in the Buy-A-Brick program. For $100.00 or more, a designated name(s) will be engraved in a brick which will be placed near the statues. For more information, contact the Tulip Time office at 171 Lincoln Ave., Holland, MI 49423, 616.396.4221 or 800.822.2770, or visit our website at Check or money order should be made payable to the Dutch Statue Fund-Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation. Tulip Time Festival 2006 Dates are May 6 to13. The spring festival is one of the largest of its kind in North America.