One of the more positive bits of environmental news in recent years is that, in the Hudson River, the sturgeon are resurgin’. A 14-foot-long specimen was spotted on sonar in the summer of 2018. By far the Hudson’s largest native fish, the Atlantic sturgeon, swimming upriver to spawn, was once an abundant food source for the indigenous people of this region. Overfishing and pollution pushed it onto the endangered species list in 2012, but it’s beginning to bounce back, thanks to a 40-year fishing moratorium enacted in 1998. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program has adopted the sturgeon as a symbol of the estuary; you’ve probably noticed the agency’s blue-and-white signs marking tributary crossings and other significant points in the watershed.
So, it should come as no great surprise that the sturgeon is getting its turn as the “honored animal” to be featured during the 2019 Sinterklaas celebration. Yes, it’s that time again already! Sinterklaas pays a visit to the Rondout waterfront district of Kingston on Saturday, November 30, before setting sail for additional festivities taking place in Rhinebeck one week later. In keeping with the sturgeon’s status as an environmental icon, the traditional Dutch antecedent of Santa Claus will make his voyage from Kingston (representing Spain) to Rhinebeck (representing Holland) on the Hudson River’s only solar-powered boat, the Hudson River Maritime Museum’s Solaris.
All events are free and open to all, with a special emphasis on families and kids. The day begins at 11 a.m. with a Crowns and Branches workshop at the Maritime Museum’s Homeport Barn. Children can become kings and queens for the day by making decorated crowns and creating royal scepters with decorated branches. Jewels, ribbons, glitter, lace, streamers and other materials will be on hand.
Starting at noon, there will be Open Houses at many Rondout businesses, as well as storytelling, face-painting, cookie-decorating, magic shows and ornament-making for kids. For the adults, there will be wine- and glogg-tastings. At the Arts Society of Kingston, dance lessons will be offered by the Vanaver Caravan, and the Catskill Mountain Music Together troupe will conduct a music workshop for kids. Other musical performers will include Mark Rust at Ole Savannah and Latin jazz from Sabor wrapping up the evening at Mariner’s Harbor.
A Blessing of the Animals, sponsored by the Ulster County SPCA, will take place at T. R. Gallo Park at noon. The Friends of Historic Kingston will guide a Rondout History Walk at 1 p.m. Scenic Hudson, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the DEC will conduct a program on the Atlantic sturgeon at the Maritime Museum, featuring a six-foot model of the formidable fish. The Kingston Artists’ Collective will host a group show of original artwork honoring the sturgeon.
At 4 p.m., the Children’s Maritime Parade wends its way down Broadway: giant puppets, grumpus heads, star lanterns, fish, flags, boat models, stiltwalkers, long rippling banners representing the River itself, Rip Van Winkle and of course Sinterklaas. Following the holy bishop’s 4:45 p.m. sendoff, there will a Tree-Lighting Ceremony at the Ulster County Visitors’ Center, with music by POOK and the Energy Dance Group. An afterparty for adults at Mariner’s Harbor commences at 5:30 p.m.
For full schedule and venue updates, visit www.sinterklaaskingston.org/schedule.html.
Sinterklaas Kingston, Saturday, November 30, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Free, Lower Broadway/The Strand, Rondout Historic District, www.sinterklaaskingston.org