Holland native devotes her life to Tulip Time

Posted at 8:35 AM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 18:57:37-04

HOLLAND, Mich--Tulip Time is into it's 7th day of the festival and the crowds just keep growing.

Tourists from more than 30 countries have already visited Tulip City, according to the Holland Visitor's Bureau, and they're expecting even more.

FOX 17 spent the day with the woman behind getting those tourists to the city she calls home.

Sally Laukitis says her job is the best one in the world. She's the Executive Director for the Holland Visitor's Bureau and has been for the past 22 years. Dressed in a dutch outfit and wooden shoes, Laukitis tells FOX 17 she couldn't imagine doing anything else.

"I’m not Dutch, but I love being Dutch for a week," she said.

She was born and raised in Holland in the 50's and started scrubbing streets during Tulip Time when she was three.

"My mom was actually one of the first Dutch dancers in the late 30’s," she said. "[She] would dress us up in Dutch costumes and she and this group of friends would take all of the kids down and scrub the streets it was great fun."

In addition, Laukitis marched with the Holland High band through 12th grade, was part of an exhibition Dutch dance group that performed in Birmingham, Alabama and she worked as a tour guide and Windmill Island.

"I would put my hair in braids, hop on my moped, would run down to Windmill Island and give tours of the Windmill, which I loved," she said.

Fifty-something years later, she's still in Holland, working as the Director of Holland's Visitors Bureau and she's doing it in style.

Laukitis drives around town in an Acadia, it's called the 'Tulip Mobile'. The vehicle is wrapped with the windmill and tulips on one side and has Holland's Big Red lighthouse on the other.

"I never dreamed in 100 years that when I grew up and became an adult I would wear a name tag and be on a float."

Laukitis says her job is to market Holland as an overnight destination and knows the city like the back of her hand.

"We have the tulips, we have the lake shore, we have an award-winning downtown," Laukitis said. "I love everything. I love the friendliness of people."

If you haven't made it down to Tulip Time yet, that's okay. The festival lasts until Saturday. The Music Parade starts at 2 p.m.

The Holland Visitor's Bureau is located downtown Holland on 8th Street.