Tulip Time Run

“It was really well received; people loved it.”

— Darlene Kuipers
(Director of Business Development, Tulip Time)

Check out the video for more information

Holland, MI — On streets lined with tulips, runners prepare for what has become a tradition at Holland’s Tulip Time festival: the Tulip Time Run. The popular race signifies the beginning of the festival with nearly 3500 runners in attendance this year. The air carried with it a slight chill from the nearby lake on the day of the run, cooling those waiting in anticipation at the starting line. The community participates heavily in the event, supporting its members and cheering on any other participants. Energy, excitement, and community fellowship: LEIGHTRONIX was there to experience all of this from start to finish.

Tulip Time Run LogoThe Tulip Time Run is a series of races that occur over one day of Tulip Time, Holland, Michigan’s world-renowned festival. For years, LEIGHTRONIX has been involved with the events surrounding Tulip Time, historically providing streaming and broadcasting support to the many parades that occur over the festival’s week-long timeframe. This year, those same parades were still christened with LEIGHTRONIX equipment and staff (which you can watch here), but for the first time LEIGHTRONIX staff utilized a streamlined technique for point-to-point streaming the Tulip Time Run.

Tulip Time

Boasting an estimated one million visitors over the course of the festival, Tulip Time is one of the largest town festivals in the nation. LEIGHTRONIX has always been heavily invested in the celebration; this year providing video and audio services for the entire week of presentations and live streaming multiple parades in addition to the work with the race.

As the name implies, Tulip Time has a lot to do with tulips, the city’s representative flower. The flower was originally chosen, however, to symbolize the area’s rich, Dutch heritage. Since 1929, the city of Holland has celebrated this heritage with Dutch dancing, special events, and millions upon millions of beautiful tulips.

No Network Connection? No Problem.

For those finished with the race, an after party was held a little under a half mile away at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant. According to Darlene Kuipers, Director of Business Development at Tulip Time, though the restaurant is quite close to the finish line, she and event officials were worried that its separation from the actual race route may lose runners’ “… connection to that finish line celebration.” To help bring the racing community together, it was determined that the race would need to be streamed back to the restaurant.

Workflow Diagram

“Live streaming presents us all, from the most technically aware person to the least technically aware person, with the opportunity to participate in something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.” – David Leighton

When Tulip Time approached LEIGHTRONIX about the need for a point-to-point stream of their popular run, we were first faced with an all-too-familiar problem with custom streaming solutions: “how can you get a quality stream when there is no Internet connection?” The race occurs throughout the city, but nowhere near an easily accessibly Ethernet line. Thankfully for all involved, LEIGHTRONIX has access to a private Verizon cellular network. Leveraging this with already impressive streaming technology, streaming the race was a breeze.

“It wasn’t an obstruction to any of our event logistics, which is something that, with an event with that many people, we are very cognizant of.” – Darlene Kuipers

At the race line, a high-definition camera was set up with a direct link to an IncodeX Stream™. Also connected to that same IncodeX Stream was a standard laptop computer. A small generator running to an uninterruptible power supply was enough to run the event-side of the workflow.

Meanwhile, a little under a half-mile away, two projectors were prepped at the Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant, inevitably showing the race in real time. Getting to that playback, however, is the real interesting part of this workflow.

Runners

After the IncodeX Stream encodes the race footage, that data is sent to an Ethernet-to-cellular router, which in turn sends its signal to a nearby cell tower using LEIGHTRONIX’s private Verizon cellular network. From there, the stream went straight to VieBit™ for access at Boatwerks. Using a typical laptop computer, staff was able to effortlessly play the stream on two separate projectors in use at the restaurant. Even as the race went on, those finished could enjoy their after party while cheering on the rest of the community.

The Cutaway

Cutaway Graphic

“Community” is a theme you’ll encounter regularly in the articles, blogs, and videos of the LEIGHTRONIX world. Though our solutions are plentiful, and oftentimes custom, many of our customers are greatly interested in this concept of community. Luckily, all of our standard products appeal directly to that concept. Live streaming can be a powerful tool for community engagement. The Tulip Time Run is a shining example of this: community members were able to come together and support other community members, even after completing their respective legs of the race.

Darlene described a very special member of their community participating in the race that day: a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings who ran in both the 5K and 10K events. According to Darlene, “… we sort of rallied around her as a community for her to finish the race because she experiences some post-traumatic stress symptoms when crossing a finish line.” She did in fact cross the finish line (twice) and the community was able to cheer her on regardless of what point they were at in the race. This is absolutely what live streaming can do for a community; every member can participate in an important moment, regardless of where they may physically be. We at LEIGHTRONIX are in the business of making those moments possible and accessible.

For more footage of our work at Tulip Time this year, check out our video. To get more information on streaming in your community, give our solution specialists a call at (800) 243-5589.

The Problem

The City of Holland needed an effective and reliable way to stream their annual Tulip Time Run to an after party at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant.

The Solution

How It Works

A strategically-placed HD video camera is positioned along the race course. Its signal is encoded by a single IncodeX Stream for live streaming to VieBit over LEIGHTRONIX’s private Verizon network. At Boatwerks, a laptop connected to a custom VieBit URL for the event displays the stream onto multiple projectors for the audience to enjoy.

In Their Words

“Other community members could watch people walking for the first time or finishing their first 5K and celebrate with them virtually, which was really neat to see.”

– Darlene Kuipers
Director of Business Development, Tulip Time

End Result

“Thanks to the years of development LEIGHTRONIX has done on the behalf of this type of event for our customer base, the workflow was easy and successful.”

– David Leighton
President and CEO, LEIGHTRONIX

At a Glance

  • Name: Tulip Time
  • Location: Holland, MI
  • Then and Now: Holland's first Tulip Time Festival in 1930 featured 250,000 tulips. Today the festival boasts over six million tulips.
  • Dutch Heritage: The city is known for its Dutch heritage which it proudly boasts at the annual Tulip Time Festival. Hope College, which is located in Holland, uses the Flying Dutchmen as its mascot.
  • Windmill: Home of the De Zwann (Dutch for Swan) windmill. The De Zwann windmill was originally erected in the Netherlands in 1761 and is the only working authentic Dutch windmill in the United States.
  • Famous Residents:
    • L. Frank Baum–author of "The Wizard of Oz"
    • Kirk Cousins–current NFL quarterback
    • Rob Malda—founder of Slashdot
    • Ron Schipper–college football coach, member of the College Football Hall of Fame
    • Erik Price–founder of Blackwater USA
    • Brian Vander Ark–lead singer of The Verve Pipe
    • Jim Katt–former MLB pitcher, 16 time Gold Glove winner and three time All Star
    • Richard Smalley–won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, discovered a new form of carbon
    • Carol van Voorst–former United States Ambassador to Iceland

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