Former Pella Tulip Queen Turns 100

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PELLA, Iowa — Though this year’s Tulip Time may be canceled, there was a celebration for a former queen of Tulip Time.

Leona “Lee” Zylstra turned 100 on Friday. A resident of the Vriendschap Assisted Living Center, her family planned a big celebration. But due to the COVID-19, those plans changed.

With no family coming, a party was planned by the staff and her neighbors. They brought her into the hallway with photos from her past as Pella’s Tulip Queen.

Lee was asked about her time as Tulip Queen.

“It was wonderful. It was very special. It was only the fifth year of Tulip Time,” said Zylstra. “I had been the attendant to the queen the third and fourth years of Tulip Time, and then the fifth year I was queen, so I was really thrilled to be able to fill that position.”

Lee is grateful for technology and stays in touch with her family through her computer in her apartment. She was asked what her secret is to a long life.

“Well, I don’t know what the secret is, but I have a very loving and supporting family and I have great faith in God and he has seen me through all this,” said Zylstra. “There’s a special text that I like from Thessalonians, be joyful always, pray continually, and be thankful in all situations.”

Lee has three children, eight grand children, and 21 great grandchildren. They all planned to come for her big 100th birthday. Those plans will have to wait until summer.

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