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Boat Gives Away Free Flowers

(AP) - The vessel meanders through Amsterdam's World Heritage Listed waterways, handing out bouquets to members of the public.

This stunt marks National Tulip Day.

The event is held each year to celebrate the start of the growing season for the iconic flowers, a major export product for Dutch farmers.

Normally, organizers set up a flower garden in front of the royal palace on the central Dam Square.

But that would attract crowds, and large public gatherings are still restricted here due to COVID.

So organizers are playing it safe.

"The tulip is a very popular product. You can see them in many different colors and that's the reason. And it is also not a very expensive flower for the people. When they buy for around 3-5 euro, you have every week a very nice bouquet on your table," says Arjan Smit, chairman of the Tulip Promotion Netherlands.

A Dutch celebrity has been recruited as the face of the event.

Andre van Duin, a comedian and TV star, is onboard, helping to give out thousands of bouquets.

The tulips are passed with a telescopic fishing net, which is one way to stick to social distancing rules.

The free flowers are appreciated by the lucky recipients.

"I often buy myself some tulips and if you go to the market, there are always tulips available. So it is all year long and I really appreciate that they like do it every year in February, that they start the tulip season. Yeah, it's just great and makes you happy to see these beautiful flowers," says Marijke Sechterberger, an Amsterdam resident:

Dutch tulips growers hope that they can dominate the European markets.

High fuel and travel costs are problems for American and African rose growers.

"Transport by airplanes is very expensive and that's the reason that not coming a lot of flowers to the market to Europe. We have a lot of production of tulips, and we sell them in Germany, Belgium, France and we celebrate with everybody at home," says Smit.

In 2021, Dutch flower and plant auctioneer Royal FloraHolland had record sales of 5.6 billion euros ($6.4 billion) thanks to higher prices for plants and cut flowers.

The Dutch government eased its virus lockdown on Friday, allowing non-essential stores, universities, sports clubs and "contact businesses" like hairdressers to reopen for the first time in nearly a month.

But while many businesses could open Saturday until 5 p.m., bars, restaurants, museums and theaters remained shut as COVID-19 cases rise steeply.

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Vince Ybarra

Vince Ybarra joined KYMA in June 2021 and is a CBS 13 anchor.

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