Thursday, July 3, 2014

Albany Tulip Festival 2014

Mother's Day weekend in May marked the 66th Albany Tulip Festival, when over 100,000 tulips bloomed in the downtown area, in particular in the city's Washington Park:

There are pink tulips:

Yellow tulips:

Purple tulips:

Double tulips:

A yellow tulip got lost here:

There are even upside-down tulips:

All kinds of people from all over the country come to the festival to photograph the tulips:

There are vendors selling all kinds of gadgets and artistic decorations; and food for a variety of palates.

But the highlight of the festival is the crowing of the Tulip Queen, who will represent the city at a variety of cultural events during the coming year, along with her "court" of runners-up. These five young women will volunteer in activities that promote literacy, civic spirit, and Albany's cultural history.

A contingent of motorcycle-riding and mounted policemen lead a procession through the park, with a bagpipe vanguard and the local "Dutch Settlers Society of Albany" ahead of a horse-drawn carriage in which ride the city's Mayor and the previous year's Tulip Queen. The procession ends at the Washington Park Lake House, where the new Queen will be crowned.

Plans for the current version of Albany's Tulip Festival began in 1948, when then-Mayor Erastus Corning II declared the tulip the official flower of the city, in honor of Albany's Dutch heritage. The first tulip festival was held the following year.

But the festival has roots in a late 18th- and early 19th-century festival in Albany, known as Pinksterfest. (See last post for details.)