Kingston’s Rondout District will join the Dutch tradition reenacted in Rhinebeck during the holiday season by hosting the opening event of Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas Celebration. With funding from the New York Council on the Humanities, the occasion that has been bringing thousands to Rhinebeck for the past three years has expanded its reach in a unique way. The bicoastal festivities will start on Saturday, November 26 with a full afternoon of activities in the Rondout that will include music, food, merchant open houses and a parade to mark the arrival of Sinterklaas on the scene.
Kingston will then send off Sinterklaas on a tugboat across the Hudson River to his destination in Rhinecliff, commemorating the Dutch Sinterklaas’ annual sailing from Spain to Holland. This traditional start to the holiday season has been celebrated in the Netherlands for centuries. Reinvented to involve the community directly in creative activities, the celebration turns away from commercialized images of the holidays to concentrate on handmade, from-the-heart participation.
A special Crowns & Branches Workshop for children will be hosted and co-sponsored by the Arts Society of Kingston at 97 Broadway on November 26, where kids can make their own bejeweled crowns and branches – royal scepters – to wear and carry in the parade. Children of all ages are invited to come to this bustling workshop from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. to work with bangles, beads, ribbons, gems and fabrics to decorate their props. And with the help of the Wish Lady, each child will be asked to tie three wishes into his or her branch: one for their family, one for their community and one for the world.
The celebration is imbued with the mythology and magic based on the fourth-century bishop Nicolas of Myra, the saint who loved children. Transformed by imagination and art, on this day children are raised up from being those least powerful to the most powerful, carrying a symbol of creative power in their hands. All children must be accompanied by an adult to this free workshop, and donations are always welcomed.
The Arrival of Sinterklaas Parade down Broadway in Kingston gives folks on this side of the Hudson River the opportunity to honor this universal symbol of tolerance and kindness. Sinterklaas will float down Broadway in a crafty boat created by artist Michael Lalicki, accompanied by stars, puppets, music and costumed players, as well as the children donned with their handmade crowns and branches. Following the parade, there will be a special reception at the Downtown Visitors’ Center with a tree-lighting at dusk.
In Rhinebeck, festivities will begin on Saturday, December 3, when Sinterklaas arrives on his horse for yet another grand parade of kids and characters and frivolity. Fire-jugglers, stilt-walkers, carolers and a brass band will escort the honoree into the village, where every business and eatery will offer its own specialties, while multiple performances are scheduled in churches and venues all day long and into the night. Another Crowns and Branches Workshop for children will be held from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Reformed Church Hall. A grand finale community circle and Children’s Star Ceremony will take place in the Municipal Parking Lot immediately after the parade. And adults can celebrate into the night at a dance to be held at Starr Place from 8 until 11 p.m.
For a complete schedule of events in Rhinebeck, visit www.sinterklaasrhinebeck.com/calendar.php and call Susan Linn at (845) 339-4280 for further information.