By Abby deRoo, city marketing director at City of Zeeland
Great things are happening in Zeeland, thanks to the hard work and good leadership that is part of our organization. Among a team of talented and dedicated city staff, the marketing department stays motivated by “Feeling the Zeel.” The three of us spend many of our working — and non-working — hours planning and strategizing how others can Feel the Zeel, too!
Feeling the Zeel with downtown development
Zeeland City Council has been dedicated to the Downtown Vision Plan. Upcoming projects include redefining public space surrounding the library and pedestrian passageways leading from the south downtown parking lot out to Main and Church streets. Also, a new sidewalk connection on Cherry Street will link the library to City Hall and provide a pedestrian connection from downtown to the south. The projects will improve walkability and a sense of place. Both projects are considering snowmelt, making the connections even more desirable!
Additionally, the city is preparing an RFQ for a new mixed-use development on the northeast corner of State and Main streets; the Vision Plan identifies this lot as one of the most important developable parcels downtown.
Feeling the Zeel with special events
Zeeland is known for its community events. Any given year, you will find Kerri VanDorp, our city events coordinator, launching a new activity to bring the community together. Last summer, she partnered with the good folks at Main Street Bicycle Co. and the Zeeland Police Department to start Cycling the City — group bike rides that toured the streets of Zeeland.
“The rides provided healthy, social and free activities for community members of all ages to get to know each other and get to know their city,” VanDorp said. “It was a great way to feel connected to our community.”
Other favorite events include the Zeeland Peddlers’ Markets — twice-annual, open-air markets that showcase local makers and collectors. With 65–80 vendors, the markets have proven to be preferred Zeeland events! And new last year, we held Zeeland’s Chalk Art Festival, which included artists from across the state creating chalk murals downtown.
Feeling the Zeel with social media
Social media is a very powerful tool, and when used effectively it can leverage passion and participation in a community. We have seen both of these increase since Tiffany Kraker, our creative services contractor, joined our team in 2019. The Feel the Zeel social media accounts focus on positivity, a source for community information and a tool to connect city leaders to the public as recognizable and accessible. Kraker also leads our team in the creation of Feel the Zeel marketing videos.
These videos have featured local stars Mayor Klynstra and Police Chief Jungel, and have had appearances by City Manager Tim Klunder, Fire Chief Tibbets, Mark Dykema of Biggby Coffee Zeeland, Zeeland Public Schools Superintendent Cal DeKuiper and the Chix and Dux mascots. In addition to high-profile leaders, the videos also include local Zeeland families.
“Connecting the public to the real faces that lead and live in Zeeland creates a scenario where people identify themselves as part of the story,” Kraker said.
More Zeel, please!
To expand on our love for Zeeland, the marketing department will be rolling out a National Neighbor Day celebration this year; good neighbors make good neighborhoods and the City of Zeeland is full of them!