The Groningen Chrysler Siren
You’re sitting at home. The birds are whistling and it’s a peaceful day (unless you live in Winscho). Then, from below your feet: a rumble. Before you have time to hide away that magazine, you’re surrounded by the piercing screech of what you (I) could only first assume to be Sigourney Weaver giving birth to the Alien. All of this happens on the first Monday of every month. At exactly noon. What the fumble is it?
It is of course, the Groningen Chrysler Siren. I bet you wish you had known this on Monday when you were running around shouting: ‘They’re back! They’re back!’
Last year, my entire house evacuated after the first honk; stood outside, trousers around our ankles, looking up into the sky expecting a fleet of Tie Fighters to screech by.
We were mistaken. And it only took us eight minutes of disappointed shuffling after the sirens had stopped to realise this.
We went back inside and sat around contemplating what the noise could’ve been: ‘Robocop,’ ‘a Dutch Dinosaur,’ ‘conformation that Beatrix made it to the moon,’ were but a few of the educated suggestions.
The Dutch let their auditory chronometers howl for a mere two minutes before testing them again in the next month. In post-Great-War-World-War-Cold-War Groningen, this routine is a necessary endeavour, as it acts as a warning of nuclear attacks. So if you hear it, and it’s not noon, then run for the hills… something that is relatively impossible here in the Netherlands.
Fun fact: if you want to go out drinking on a Sunday but are riddled with worry that your alarm will not wake you up the next morning (and the next day happens to be the first Monday of the month) the Chrysler Siren produces the loudest sound ever achieved by an air raid siren… so that should wake you up just fine.