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300,000 dahlias per float

Pictures from world's largest dahlia parade

In January the design was chosen and from Ascension Day they started building the floats. Last Sunday the reward finally came for all the hard work with second place for Klein Zundert in the annual Corso Zundert, the largest dahlia parade in the world.


He did not expect second place, says Niek Melisse. The chairman of neighborhood association Klein Zundert, permanent participant in the annual flower parade, was allowed to accept the prize for their float on Sunday. Their somewhat sinister plague Doctor portrays a scene of two patients with death on their heels and a doctor wearing an old-fashioned plague mask and a lantern in hand. The colors - a lot of dark purple, with light accents – along with the dark music and the green LED lights gave the monster a spooky appearance. "We wanted to create the right atmosphere. That also has to be high to score nowadays. This float actually has all the elements of corso construction: the construction, with tempex and foam and welded parts, the technique and the movement and the design, the anatomy. We heard good reactions and we were already placed high in the group, but this is great."

The entire Klein Zundert club in front of their float.



Mist
The atmosphere is completed with a fog machine under the float. The system behind it is well known in horticulture - although MJ Tech's fog installation can usually be found in greenhouses in order to gain more control over temperature. "We wanted to suggest evening mist to create the right atmosphere. For that, we came to MJ-Tech, who also come from this area. And it worked well: even when it was sunny, it immediately changed the atmosphere. "It makes the float extra heavy: 4,000 liters of water are being fogged these days. Was not a smoke machine easier? "That is not allowed because of the CO2 which is not so sustainable of course. Now we only use water - as safe as can be for the environment."

Artist's impression of the design

Atmosphere
With the fog coming from under the float, goose bumps were guaranteed. Even if the temperature is in the high 20s, like last Sunday. "And add up to ten degrees in the float," says Niek. The floats are driven entirely on manpower. It's quite a job - especially when you consider that the float is nearly twenty tons heavy.

It did not matter to the people inside pushing the float last Sunday. It is an honor for the members of the association, who are actually busy with the event throughout the year. In January the design was determined, on Ascension Day the tent is set up and building can start. From the Thursday before the corso, the dahlias are attached to the float. 900 boxes were used, containing 375 dahlias each. There were ninety people working in the tent.



Growing flowers

They grow the flowers themselves, on a small field of two hectares in the neighborhood. "Around King's Day the bulbs go into the ground and from the end of July we can pick the flowers. The harvest is the largest in the middle of August until the end of September", says Niek. The flowers are exchanged with other participants and sold - they go for other processions to France and Spain. They did not really suffer from the summer heat. "From the construction more than with cultivation. We have always irrigated and we have a good field team, so that's always going well."


The corso was won by 't Stuk with their moving iguanas

Sunday was the big party, Monday that was repeated during the exhibition of the floats once again and then the floats are dismantled. And then on to next year? "Let's start with a bit of relaxation", says Niek. After all, they did have to wait for the prize: the last time that Klein Zundert ended in the top three was fourteen years ago. Then they were on the highest step of the podium, a place that was now occupied by the moving iguanas of Buurtschap 't Stuk. A place for next year? Certainly something that comes to mind, even though that is not the most important thing for Niek. "That's the sense of community. You work here with the whole club for an entire year. That's the best part," says Niek.


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