After 96 years, a Holland teacher gets her due

Lida Rogers
Lida Rogers

In the early 1920s, the landscape of Holland, Michigan, featured farms and industry. Sure, it was Dutch — but not yet tulip-y. Someone had to plant the idea that the city should create tulip gardens, and that someone was Lida Rogers.

The Holland High School biology teacher had a vision for a more beautiful, engaging community — and she wasn’t shy about speaking her mind. In a 1927 speech to the Women’s Literary Club, Rogers proposed the town set aside a day each spring to celebrate tulips (and plant them like crazy). She urged people to “boost for it.” 

The idea wasn’t brand new, but “it didn’t have a take-charge woman behind it” until Rogers stepped to the podium, said local history volunteer Deb Schakel. Three years later, Holland’s Tulip Time debuted.

Four days before this year’s festival begins, a plaque honoring Rogers will be dedicated among the tulip fields at Windows on the Waterfront, the park two blocks north of Holland’s main drag. If you’re at Tulip Time in May, we suggest you tip your hat to her as you pass the new plaque where Windows on the Waterfront’s paved paths converge.

May 2, 2 p.m.
Windows on the Waterfront
85 E. 6th St., Holland