ZEELAND, Mich. — It's not every day that you see someone riding their bike down the road in a full holiday outfit, but it's becoming a tradition for Zeeland residents.
And it's all thanks to a man who just wants to spread joy around his community.
"I never knew who I was until I put on a suit," said Zeeland resident Taurean Smith-Partee.
Smith-Partee has become a local celebrity in the city. The 31-year-old has become well-known for riding his bike around town wearing extravagant suits and decorations.
But his journey wasn't always so joyful, or easy.
"My identity as someone that is autistic or someone born with autism, it was a big struggle in my entire life and throughout my school years," said Smith-Partee. "People don't understand really how special people with autism can really be."
Smith-Partee said that when he moved to Zeeland in the early 2000s, he met so many wonderful people, and his family always taught him to show love and overcome what he'd been through in the past.
"It's who you are made to be," he said, "and we're all different."
Smith-Partee has always loved to celebrate Halloween with all-out costumes, but in 2018 when he found an entire Halloween-themed suit, it became a tradition for all holidays. He starts wearing each holiday outfit on the first of the month, and he wears it every day until the holiday passes. This month he'll be sporting a St. Patrick's Day suit as he rides around the city.
"Especially in 2020 when COVID hit everybody, I realized I'm going to have to do something big and different for these people," Smith-Partee said. "It's to show everyone that there can be so much light in their life."
And Smith-Partee said there's nothing better than seeing smiles on people's faces when he gets to show them his beloved suits.
"Now that I finally show them my true self," he said, "I can finally show the world that no one can stop me from being who I am."
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