Rhinebeck hosts Sinterklaas, honors children

A week after his arrival on the Rondout waterfront in Kingston, where a major focus will be on this year’s “honored animal,” the noble sturgeon, Sinterklaas will return to Rhinebeck on Saturday, December 7 to lead the festivities in what has by now become a well-established, slightly modernized Hudson Valley version of an old New Amsterdam tradition. Whereas the Dutch antecedent of this revered character employed a rather scary entourage of grumpuses to chastise naughty children with birch rods (and carry the worst ones off in a sack), our kids get to carry the branches themselves – transformed during Crowns & Branches decoration workshops into royal scepters. They’re designated kings and queens for a day, and tasked with bringing light into a dark time. “They each have to tie wishes into their branch: one for the community, one for the family, one for the world,” says Sinterklaas creator Jeanne Flemming. “They understand their responsibility to be a good king or queen.”

Flemming presides over the Sinterklaas opening ceremony at noon at the Beekman Arms. After that, all of downtown Rhinebeck comes alive with cultural activity. There’s live music from all over the world: bagpipe, gospel, Dixieland, Irish, didgeridoo, Balkan, Ukrainian, samba, African, Bolivian, Mexican and Indonesian. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Arm-of-the-Sea Theater and the Vanaver Caravan will perform, as will stilt dancers, Chinelos dancers from Mexico and a Morris side reenacting the ancient Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. Roaming the streets will be Roger the Jester, the Wish Lady, the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly, the Polar Bear, grumpuses, faeries, magicians, storytellers and a plethora of brass bands. Sinterklaas Rhinebeck winds up with the Children’s Starlight Parade along Market Street at 6 p.m., followed by a Pageant in the Municipal Lot on East Market.

Download the program at www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com/wp-content/uploads/Sinterklaas2019_PROGRAM_web.pdf for the full list of entertainers, venues and start times, a map and good advice on where to park.


Sinterklaas Festival Day Rhinebeck, Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Free, Rhinebeck, (845) 876-4030, www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com/sinterklaas-festival-day-in-rhinebeck