Letter of thanks: Dutch couple honored to be grand marshals

Dries Bessels and his wife Marion Flimm ride in the back of a convertible at last month’s Andy Devine Days Parade. The couple had no idea what to expect as this was their first parade.

Dries Bessels and his wife Marion Flimm ride in the back of a convertible at last month’s Andy Devine Days Parade. The couple had no idea what to expect as this was their first parade.

In 2014, my wife and I were inducted into the Route 66 Walk of Fame in Kingman because of all the work we did for Route 66 and the city of Kingman.

At least, that’s what they told us that was why.

To me, it never felt that way. I was just busy with my hobby, traveling along Route 66 and through the U.S.A., but other people thought differently.

Just the induction was a true honor, but then we were asked to participate in the Best of the West festival this year, specifically as Grand Marshals of the Andy Devine Days Parade.

Neither in the Netherlands nor in Germany, where Marion was born, is there something such as festivals or a parade, so we did not really know what to expect.

Were we supposed to buy a round of drinks for the whole town? Would we be asked to ride a rodeo bull through downtown Kingman? No idea!

Still, we thought it could never be that bad so we humbly accepted the honor and hoped for the best.

This was one of the wisest decision we made in our lives. It started with me riding Route 66 for the tenth time this year as a tour guide for a group of Dutch motorcyclists – with one American thrown in for good measure. It was a great ride, as usual.

Afterwards we went back to Kingman where we, together with Judy & Jim Hinckley from Kingman, were invited for the Friday night charity dinner from the Kingsmen. It was another great evening with great food and great company! I participated in the charity auction and bought the mystery box. Inside was a nameplate from somebody named Gene, which I now proudly wear on my motorcycle jacket. Thanks, Gene!

On Saturday morning we went to downtown Kingman and met the police chief, the major and many other very friendly people. We felt a bit embarrassed by all the friendliness and all the people lining the road while we were sitting in an enormous convertible, waving at the public. Still, it was highly enjoyable.

Because of some miscommunication, we missed the lunch with the mayor and other dignitaries, but in the afternoon we were handed the commemorative glass plate ornament, which comes with being the Grand Marshall and which now sits proudly in a display cabinet in our living room in Amsterdam.

In the evening, we were invited to the rodeo, another first for us. Again with Judy and Jim we had VIP seats and were again impressed by all the friendly people we met.

On Sunday morning we had to leave early since I had to go back to work after three weeks in the U.S., so we had to rush away from Kingman, but I could have stayed much longer!

What we took home was a thankful feeling. We are thankful for the honor, thankful for an absolute marvelous weekend, thankful for all the friendly people and we are thankful for Gene’s nameplate.

With kindest regards,

Dries Bessels & Marion Flimm

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

dries@rte66.nl