History & Background


For over half a century, one of Albany's most treasured traditions. 68 Years of Tulip Queens!

 

The Albany Tulip Festival - 69 Years of History
Albany has a soft spot in its heart for the tulips.
by Charles Mooney in an editorial for the Knickerbocker News, May 2, 1948

This soft spot still exists, not only for the flower, but for a theme rich with tradition, history and heritage. Following this editorial, Mayor Corning passed a city ordinance in which the tulip was to become Albany's official flower on July 1, 1948. In addition, he sent a request to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands to name a variety as Albany's tulip. June 11, 1948, a cable was received.

"Her Majesty gladly accepts the invitation to designate a tulip as the official flower of Albany."

The bronzy orange shaded scarlet ORANGE WONDER was named the Tulip of Albany. In turn, Mayor Corning named a committee to create a festival to celebrate Albany, America's oldest Dutch settlement, with tulips.

May 14, 1949, Mayor Corning read the Tulip Festival Proclamation to announce the premiere of our tradition. Opening ceremonies continued on State Street where members of the community scrubbed the street. This is a continuation of a tradition in the Netherlands wherein the streets are scrubbed prior to celebration. A King and Queen reigned over this first celebration and danced the night away at the Tulip Festival Ball, first held at the Washington Avenue Armory. Tulips could be seen in every small park in the city with the most colorful and vast array on display in Washington Park.

The tradition that exists in our festival is as rich as the tradition that exists in our Dutch heritage. The festival has evolved over the past 58 years, but still holds its roots in history. The changes throughout the years have been a result of increased participation by members of the community. Pinksterfest was added to the venue in 1950 featuring crafts, food and entertainment that excited the involvement of the entire community. The tradition of the "Scrubbing of State Street" to open the festival, and the crowning of Albany's Tulip Queen still remain today.

 

Years later, Albany still blooms with its heritage. The annual Tulip
Festival marks another year of the celebration of history and tradition. The
festival is a three day celebration which includes the Street Scrubbing, the
Tulip Luncheon, the Royal Tulip Ball, and a festival among the thousands of
tulips that will decorate Washington Park and the entire City of
Albany. Each year, the Tulip Festival is reminiscent of the 1948 festival as
the Albany community commemorates its heritage with our soft spot for
tulips.