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Ruritans celebrate in Holland

A little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy made his way to the ticket counter.

The child, no older than 5, could barely see over the card table, but that did not stop him.

With his cheeks flushed and eyes wide with excitement, he mustered his request.

“One ticket, please.”

His need was well founded.

The usually quiet village of Holland had been made over Saturday morning. In the middle of the village, once-empty fields were now homes to giant, inflatable slides, bouncing rooms and obstacle courses. The baseball and softball fields were brimming with young players running, practicing and playing. Past the rides and attractions, there were bright signs pointing to the snow cone stands and the smells of funnel cakes baking flooded the village.

It was too much for a kid of any age to ignore, and that is exactly how organizers of the 2010 Holland Ruritan Founders’ Day wanted it.

“We were trying to bring things out for members of the whole family,” said Carol Warren, Ruritan Founders’ Day Chairman. “This is a wonderful event, and it is great to have people come out and appreciate our community, to be in the community and really fellowship with each other.”

The annual event celebrates the beginning of the Ruritan club, which was founded 82 years ago in Holland. Since that time, the club has grown and expanded to become a national service organization – a point of pride for many in the Holland community.

“Ruritans from across the nation come to celebrate the founding Ruritans,” Warren said. “It’s really an exciting thing.”

This celebration includes the famous Holland parade. This year marked the 30th year of the parade, and featured a wide array of community and national leaders. From the marching bands of each of the local high schools to the national leadership of the Ruritan organization, thousands of people packed the street and sidewalks of Holland to see the parade participants.

Little boys were awe-struck as the volunteers of the Holland Volunteer Fire Department threw out candy to the kids in attendance, and little girls marveled at the local beauty pageant winners adorned in their tiaras and sashes.

Following the parade, guests had their share of things to do and see. There was a barbecue cook-off, with more than a dozen entries of homemade barbecue recipes. Music and live entertainment played, a corn hole tournament and several vendors set up shop for people to peruse and browse everything from baby clothes to purses.

“It’s just great to have people support local businesses and support the community,” Warren said.

All the money raised from the day’s celebrations goes to reimburse the event’s expenses, Warren said.

“We’re not doing this to make money,” she said. “We do this to give people a reason to come out to Holland and to stay and fellowship.”