A street in The Hague gets an all-encompassing orange facelift for Euro 2024

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The fluttering of 64 kilometers (40 miles) of orange bunting and a hammer driving a nail into a wall to hold up orange tarps are the sounds of a Dutch summer of soccer in a normally drab suburban street in The Hague.

The Marktweg is one of several streets in the Netherlands that get an all-encompassing orange facelift during European Championships and World Cups when the national team — known as Oranje after the Dutch royal family and the color of their shirts — are looking to add to the Euro it won 36 years ago.

For two months leading up to Euro 2024 that starts on Friday in Germany, a dedicated team of up to 10 volunteers — more in the weekends — has been decorating their street, creating not just an orange overload, but also a sense of community.

Houses are plastered with orange tarps and banners, street lights and trees are wrapped in orange, garbage containers are — you guessed it — orange, while litter bins are red, white and blue, the equally patriotic colors of the Dutch flag.

Even a crew of municipal workers fits in, decked out in uniforms of orange high-visibility clothes.

Macho Vink, a 35-year-old truck driver, is on a cherry picker banging nails into the walls of houses to secure tarps that cover the entire length of the street.

“It's time for a big party,” he said. “Get some positivity back,” he added as the driver of a passing car tooted his horn and gave a thumbs up.

The decorations appeared in the street for the first time during Euro 1988 — where the Netherlands won its only major soccer tournament — in West Germany.

Danny van Dijk, one of the driving forces behind the decorations, said it's been getting bigger and better ever since, with sponsorship from local businesses now helping to foot the bill.

“It started as a joke — hang a ball sprayed with text in a tree,” Van Dijk told The Associated Press.

But the ball idea quickly snowballed into what has become arguably the orangest place on the planet, though some other equally lavishly decorated Dutch streets also seek to lay claim to that honor.

“The neighbors liked it, we liked it and now every two years we're up in the scaffolding and cherry pickers to decorate the street,” Van Dijk said.

The decorations draw visitors to the street but also allow neighbors to get to know one another.

“You meet other people, have a chat. The children like it, the people like it. It really brings people together,” he added.

And once the tournament ends for the Dutch team — Van Dijk is hoping this year it will be with captain Virgil van Dijk, no relation, lifting the trophy — the team of decorators gets back to work in the Marktweg.

“We wait for two or three days to recover from the hangover," he said. "Then with 10 men we take down everything. You come back and it's all gone.”


AP Euro 2024:

Mike Corder, The Associated Press