We are thrilled to have Ruth Dailey, Tulip Time volunteer, give us the inside scoop on her adventures as a Step On Guide for visiting motor coach tours.
How do I get myself into these things? Good question but I’ll try to answer it. My name is Ruth Dailey, I’m a lifelong Holland resident and I’m about 85% retired but still on contract as a consultant to my old employer. I had barely signed the retirement and contract paperwork when my friend Susan, a Tulip Time staffer, asked me if I would do some photography for the festival. I thought “sure, why not”? It would give me something to do and I would even get an official, and pretty impressive, press pass. The festival of 2012 was more fun than I expected. For many years the necessity of having a job limited the time available to see any of the parades, not to mention the other events. I took about 900 pictures that first year.
During the following winter, when you would think Susan would give me a break, she told me about the Step On Guide program and that she wanted to add some coach tours out to the State Park and Big Red. She asked if I would do some research into the area so the guides would have information about the things they pointed out to visitors along the way. In the dead of the winter I thought “sure, why not”?
In addition to photography I’m interested in local history so once I started digging out information I was hooked. Even though I’ve lived on Holland’s north side all of my adult life I learned a lot of things I didn’t know and some of it was pretty interesting. Armed with all that information I began to think that I was a prime candidate for the tour guide job. Sure, why not? I volunteered for the job, bought a Dutch costume (I hadn’t had one since I was a kid), grabbed my many pages of notes and before I knew it I was climbing onto my first tour coach loaded with 50 people from southern Illinois.
I should probably admit that besides my interest in photography and history, I also tend to be a bit of a ham. I love to get up in front of people and consider it a challenge to be prepared to field their questions about a town and an area I love. And the people…they were great. They loved Holland, they adored the tulips, they were awed by Lake Michigan, and yes, they threw a lot of questions at me.
Between tours I took nearly 2000 pictures at many of the festival events and venues but I also was flattered to have several visitors take pictures of me. I like to think that I might have influenced some of them to come back, stay longer and bring their friends. I never knew how much fun work could be when the work itself is fun. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this for as long as I can manage to stand up in a moving bus. Sure, why not?