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Flower parades are held all over the world, but the one that takes place in Zundert, the Netherland, is extraordinarily artistic. It’s also the largest parade in the world. Huge floats are made of wire, cardboard and papier-mâché and entirely covered in dahlias in intricate designs. The dahlias for grown specifically for the parade, and thousands of them are required just to cover one float.
The huge floats are made by twenty different hamlets and each of them consists of hundreds of builders, aged 1 to 100, who are all equally crazy about the bloemencorso. The older members of the hamlet are often responsible for planting and growing the dahlias, while the younger ones build the float in large temporary tents that are built exclusively for the event.
Building a float for the bloemencorso is mainly a social event. Builders of all ages work side by side for over three months to get the float of their hamlet ready on time. It has to be as perfect as possible in order to win the competition.
The parade itself takes place on the first Sunday of September, but the members of the hamlets work on their floats all summer. The tents are put up in May or June and from then on the volunteers put all their effort in creating the giant artworks. The last three days before the actual parade are the most stressful. Because the flowers have to be fresh, the hamlets can only start applying the dahlias on the floats on the Thursday before the parade. If necessary, the builders will work day and night to have their float ready on Sunday.
Most people in Zundert will happily give up their days off to work on the float. The social cohesion that comes from building it is very important. A hamlet is like a family where everyone knows each other and everyone is welcome. After a long evening working on the float people drink a beer together and most hamlets organize all kinds of other activities like song contests and barbecues.