Saint’s alive! Sinterklaas unites Kingston, Rhinebeck with old Dutch tradition

Photo of 2010 Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck by Doug Baz

By the time you read this, it’ll be almost time for the sainted bishop Nikolaos of Myra – still looking remarkably well-preserved, in spite of having been born in the fourth century – to make his long-awaited Dutchess County landfall and ride in a grand procession up to the Rhinecliff Hotel. Being the patron saint of sailors (as well as of merchants, archers, thieves, children and students), Nikolaos the Wonderworker – a/k/a Saint Nicholas – will be arriving by tugboat from the Rondout in Kingston this Saturday afternoon, November 26, amidst festivities described in detail in last week’s edition of Alm@nac (you can read that piece online at or just look at page 2 of last week’s paper).

But the main event in Rhinebeck’s annual Sinterklaas Celebration takes place a week later, on Saturday, December 3. Or I should say “events,” since the list of activities going on all over town is mind-boggling and might necessitate planning ahead. Some stuff is going on all day long, so you can stop by in between the other activities on your must-do list: the Illuminated Book on display at the Beekman Arms, for example, which was created by Nadine Robbins, Grace Gunning and Molly Ahearn with help from James Gurney (yes, the Dinotopia guy), Richard Prouse and Andy Neal.

Actually, the Beekman Arms will be the site of the official Celebration kickoff, at 11:30 a.m.: a Native American Blessing, Drumming and Song led by Roland Mousa. The Iroquois “Story of the Crow” will lead into a session with master storyteller Jonathan Kruk and a performance of St. George and the Dragon. In the afternoon you can catch the Tom Hanford Puppets, Grian MacGregor’s Ivy Vine Players, Roger the Jester, Arm-of-the-Sea Theater and the Ukrainian Spider Spiridon Marionette Show.

Even earlier than Mousa’s opening invocation, Samuel’s will be opening for entries in the Bear Beauty Contest, where your costumed stuffed buddy can compete for a $25 prize. Los Chinelos, traditional dancers in spectacular costumes from the state of Morelos, Mexico, will begin performing at the Montgomery Row Walkway and Gaby’s from around 11 a.m. on; tightrope walker Michael Rosman will dance in the air all afternoon in Foster’s Parking Lot; and in general, all of downtown Rhinebeck will be swarming with busking street performers throughout the daylight hours.

High on your list, if you’ve got kids and they haven’t yet made a crown to wear and decorated a branch carry in the Sinterklaas Parade, is a stop at the Firehouse. It’s their last chance to get decked out for Rhinebeck’s annual celebration of Kid Power. Children are asked to visit the Wish Lady before they leave, and adults to place a promise in the Peace Dove. Grab a flag for the Parade, and stars will also be on sale if your family wants to participate in the Children’s Star Celebration following the Parade. Wing and Clover will also be hosting Paper Bird Ornament-Making workshops at 1 and 3 p.m.

Working up an appetite yet? Lunch will be served at the Third Lutheran Church on Livingston Street, and from 5 to 8 p.m. there will be a Spaghetti Dinner to benefit the Whale Watch at the Church of the Messiah. From 1 to 4:30 p.m. the Third Lutheran will also host a Musicale for adults featuring the Camerata Chorale, the Pamelech Klezmer Orkester, Mamalama and the Kartuli Ensemble.

From 1 to 4 p.m., the Dutch Reformed Church Sanctuary will offer stories and songs from Jonathan Kruk, Strawberry Hill Strings, Kimberly Kahn and Friends, the Woodstock Renaissance Musicale, Astra Alert and Byrdsong from Woodstock and Szelroza’s Gypsy & Street Music from Old Europe. At the Church of the Messiah, at 12:30, 2 and 4 p.m., the Vanaver Caravan and Arm-of-the-Sea Theater will perform Into the Light: A Holiday Spectacular featuring giant puppets, music and dances from Holland, Sweden, Israel, Mexico and Ireland.

The DAR House will present “Readings with the General” at 1:30 and at 2:30 p.m., featuring Revolutionary War reenactor Gary Petagine. From 1 to 4 p.m. the Courtyard will offer honey-tastings, a traditional tree, carolers and chestnut-roasting, while Iconic Hair will have Button-Down Balloons.

At Town Hall from 12:30 to 4 p.m., you can catch Grumpus Magic by Andy Weintraub; Dog on Fleas; Sugarplums and Nutcrackers by the Rhinebeck School of Dance; Carl Welden reciting “The Night before Christmas”; Underage Rockers Unite; St. George and the Dragon; the Mid-Hudson Mexican Folkloric Group; and Solas An Lae. From 12 noon to 5 p.m., Upstate Films will present four shows each of Jen Slaw’s One-Woman Circus and the famed Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (in its more family-friendly version).

As evening comes on, so do the lights, with a Havdalah Candle-Lighting ceremony in the Dapson/Chestney Funeral Home parking lot. Then, at 6 p.m., the Children’s Starlight Parade steps off from West Market Street, proceeds through the Village and continues to the Municipal Lot for the Community Circle. This is the pièce de résistance of the Sinterklaas Celebration, a “historic recreation of an Old Dutch Parade with Sinterklaas on his horse, the Crows, the Turtle, the Snow Geese, the Seven Sisters, Giant Figures, music, Stiltwalkers, the Wild Women, the Grumpus, Creatures of the Woods, Rip Van Winkle, Stilting Doves, the Dancing Bears, Fire Jugglers and all the children and townsfolk.” At the Municipal Parking Lot immediately following the Parade will be the Children’s Star Celebration featuring Fire Juggling, the Blessing of the Crow, the On the Lam Band and the Peace Dove.

Presumably the little ones will be thoroughly worn out and ready for visions of sugarplums to dance in their heads by the time that’s all over, but adults who still have some energy for evening entertainment have several options available. Oblong Books will present comedian/author Andy Borowitz at Rhinebeck High School at 7:30 p.m. The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck will host the Rhinebeck Dance Center in another performance of Sugarplums and Nutcrackers at 8 p.m. And from 8 to 11 p.m. at Liberty in the Starr Building, the On the Lam Band will perform Dixieland-style for the Sinterklaas Dance.

For more details, visit




Share this article
Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Your name is required

Please enter a valid email address

An email address is required

Please enter your message

Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly © 2015 All Rights Reserved

An Ulster Publishing publication