If the Wooden Shoe Fits: Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Caedmon Kephart

Soph. Caedmon Kephart performing a Dutch dance at the Dutch Village soft open

Soph. Caedmon Kephart performing a Dutch dance at the Dutch Village soft open

Kira Guerrin

Soph. Caedmon Kephart checks his watch once again. It’s 2:53 pm and he starts to head towards the large Dutch organ in the center of the park. He begins to stretch his legs and scuff his wooden shoes, trying to stay somewhat cool while wearing a Dutch costume and 9 pairs of socks. At 3:00, the bells chime playing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” followed by an announcement alerting guests that it’s time for the performance. With hands on his hips, (like a true Dutch dancer) Kephart kicks, clomps, and leaps with his coworkers.

An Average Shift

   Recently, Kephart talked about what it’s like to be a Dutch Village employee and what a typical shift looks like for him. Before work, he puts on his costume which includes 9 pairs of socks, wooden shoes, a black hat, a blue and white striped shirt, a red bandana, and black pants. When he clocks in, there are multiple “stations” at the theme park that he could be scheduled at for that day. Shifts occur at the ice cream shop, the admission gates, the cheese shop, and the fudge shop. Some employees are specifically there for dancing and performing certain demonstrations about Dutch history during that shift. For these demonstrations, employees have to take time to memorize specific monologues and speeches about Delftware, Dutch housing, Dutch costumes, wooden shoes, and more. People don’t quite understand or appreciate the amount of memorization of dances, demonstrations, and general Dutch history that is required to work at Dutch Village.


   Many people who have spent their entire lives in Holland underestimate the tourism Dutch Village brings in. “There are a lot of people who come from India, a lot of people from Chicago, and literally all over the world.” Most Holland residents treat Dutch Village like an easy afternoon activity to do with their kids, but Kephart has stated that it is quite a big deal for people out of town. He said, “They do treat it like Disneyland, I’ve heard people refer to Dutch Village as the happiest place on earth.” Though this sounds like a bit of an overstatement to most Holland residents, they truly tend to take the magic of Dutch Village and its employees for granted.


   Every day, certain employees have to perform a dance at 3 and then again at 5. Dutch Village trains its employees to learn and memorize three different dances that are combined into one 10-11 minute long performance. To prepare for the dance,  employees dip the bottoms of their wooden shoes into the canal and scrape them on the ground to make them more grippy and easier to dance in. There is a huge performance aspect that is necessary for this career. Tourists do not realize how much acting, dancing, and stamina go into this job. 

Customer Interactions

   Kephart also shared that the job can be quite humbling. Although customers are typically nice, one awful experience with them could ruin his day.  Some guests at Dutch Village treat the employees quite poorly. They forget  that employees are people too. Kephart said, “When people are nice and they talk to me like I’m a person it makes me feel special, or when they tell me to have a good day, because I’m always telling customers to have a good day… when they tell me to have a good day, it’s just special.” He also says, “When they don’t grunt at me, I really like that!” Apart from the fact that he was already raised to treat workers with respect, this job is just another way  for him to remember that people work really hard and don’t deserve to be treated poorly. It would be wonderful if Holland residents could take a moment to appreciate the work that goes into this theme park and the people who are necessary to make the magic happen.

   Kephart shared that there are quite a few wholesome moments while working at Dutch Village. He enjoys sharing his job with the kids who come to visit.  Kephart explained that large groups of kids from preschools or elementary schools would come in and watch the demonstrations of Dutch history, and they would all get so excited. One specific group seemed to stick with Kephart. “There was this one kid and he was so funny and every time I asked if there were any questions his hand shot up in the air and he would be like ‘um… yeah… so- the cheese.. Um.. yeah- um- never mind!’ Then I was doing the wooden shoes demonstration for them and at the end I asked if there were any questions and his hand shot up in the air again… and he was like ‘um…. The wooden shoes… um- yeah… um… never mind!’ Then I took them to the school house and did the whole demo and I was like ‘do you guys have any questions?’ His hand shot up in the air! I was like, do you have a question buddy? And he said ‘Uh… the schoolhouse… um, uh, m… nevermind!’ It was so funny. He just had so many thoughts and just couldn’t quite get any of them out,” Kephart said.

   Everyone in Holland and plenty of people from around the world know that Dutch Village is a great place to visit. This small peek on what it’s like from an employee’s point of view opens up a whole new perspective and level of respect for not only the park itself, but the people who make it (what some people will even say) the happiest place on earth.