I’ve attended several parades here in Amsterdam. They’re always fun because they’re done on the water via boats rather than on land-based vehicles like most other cities. Ever since seeing my first parade here, I’d hoped to one-day be on a float rather than on the sidelines watching.
There are plenty of parades here, including the winter parade. I’d always assumed that Koninginnedag, while technically not a parade, would be my best chance. As a straight man, imagine my surprise when the opportunity arose to be on Gay Pride Parade float.
Through meeting other Expats, I’ve come to befriend a number of folks who work for Google, and YouTube was sponsoring a float, so I was invited along. We were all requested to dress in red & white, so I hunted around town for a pair of red pants. This is not as hard as you might think, as red pants are a somewhat common item to see Dutch males wearing. I guess now I can fit in even more.
After a bit of a snafu regarding what time we needed to arrive to board the boat, we finally hopped on near Westerpark. We floated down to the holding area where the authorities all organize the boats into their proper order before the parade begins. Some light rain passed over us for a bit, but quickly dissipated, so we thought all might be well. Hah! Right as we began moving our boat towards the parade route, the skies opened and it absolutely POURED rain for about 10 minutes. We did stop under a bridge for a bit, but were forced to move along to keep up with the floats in front of us.
After the rain stopped, the sun came out, and it turned into an absolutely beautiful day. It took us about 4 hours to traverse the entire parade route, with a DJ spinning tunes the entire way. We had plenty of alcohol, snacks, and cameras aboard the boat, though I had only my iPhone to document the experience.
Somewhere near the Westerkerk, our boat’s engine decided to stop, and we sat in the middle of the canal for about 15 minutes, with no way to get moving. The authorities tried pushing us a bit, but their boat was not powerful enough to move us fast enough. Finally, some spectators on the side of the canal started up their boat and offered to tow us the rest of the way. Probably 10 floats had passed us in the meantime, but we were once again under way.
After finishing the parade, we walked to the nearby houseboat of a friend and watched the last few floats go by. It was a fun day (even if I’m not really much of a dancer), and a very unique way to see Amsterdam.