Singer Josefien Stoppelenburg and Consul General Louis Piët lead guests in the national anthems during the King’s Day celebration.

By Adriaan Walpot
Economic Affairs, Communications, Netherlands Consulate General in Chicago

The Netherlands Consulate General in Chicago hosted reception on April 27 in honor of King Willem-Alexander’s 50th birthday. The event, complete with the traditional singing of the national anthems, the yearly King’s Day speech, and a wonderful performance of Chicagoan-Dutch comedian Greg Shapiro, can best be described as “formal meets informal.”

Children in Dutch costumes greeted guests as they entered the reception, which was beautifully decorated in everything orange.

The ceremonial part was the singing of the Dutch and American anthems, led by the beautiful soprano voice of Josefien Stoppelenburg, and the speech by Consul General Louis Piët. He spoke about the changing times we live in and expressed gratitude for the strong bond that exists between our two countries.

After the formal part of the ceremony, comedian Greg Shapiro took the stage and made fun of the Dutch in a strikingly Dutch manner of directness and satire.

A refreshing feature of the night was a photo booth and green screen. Guests could put on Dutch props, have their picture taken in the middle of tulip fields, among cows, or next to the canals of Amsterdam. Guests even had the chance to win you a signed copy of Greg Shapiro’s book “How to be Dutch” by entering a photo competition on Twitter.

This informality holds true to King Willem-Alexander, who we love for being such a people’s person. Everyone seemed to enjoy this aspect of the reception.

All in all, it was a beautiful King’s Day reception with a good balance between networking and enjoyment. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.