Sawing, drilling and here and there a lick of paint: in the shed of the 8 October Vereeniging in Alkmaar, the final touches are being put to the floats for Alkmaar Ontzet. Because although it is almost 450 years ago that Alkmaar defeated the Spaniards during the 80-year war, this historical fact is still exuberantly celebrated. The Great Afternoon Parade through the city is one of the highlights.

    In the warehouse, the builders are still busy putting the finishing touches on the i. And where one float is as good as finished, other floats still need some work. Yet Gerard Kuijper, chairman of the Great Afternoon Parade, is not worried.

    “It is always exciting, but it will be fine again this year. The great thing is that when other builders are ready, they are happy to lend a hand to their colleagues. There is always a great sense of solidarity here.”

    This year’s theme is ‘Splendid Color’ and that is already clearly visible in the shed. “Yes, it’s a bit of a painting evening,” says Lizette van Gool. “The building is finished and now a lot of painting is being done to make it completely beautiful.”

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    Van Gool himself is working on the statue of Victorientje, the Alkmaar statue of liberty that stands in the Victoriepark and commemorates the liberation of the city. “She now has an orange wig, which we had left from King’s Day. It is intended that it will eventually become white, so it is not a face.”

    Arnold Rits has been working on the floats for years and his candy shop seems to have escaped from the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. “We’ve been working for six weeks, but we’re making good progress,” says Rits. “It goes through the city for 2.5 hours but I hope people like it. It will be a spectacle again.”

    View the construction of the floats below

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