A Dutch Tradition is Reborn in Rhinebeck, NY
FIRST SATURDAY IN DECEMBER, SINCE 2008 . . .
In the 1980s, NY Village Halloween Parade Director Jeanne Fleming started a Dutch Christmas celebration as an alternative to the prevailing tide of generic and over-commercialized holiday events. "Old Dutch Christmas" drew its imagery from traditional Dutch celebrations for the arrival of Sinterklaas (or Saint Nicholas), incorporating the historically layered folk characters into a roving and Carnivalesque street happening, culminating in an illuminated procession and pageant.
In 2008, Jeanne brought back the event, after years of popular demand, and rechristened it simply Sinterklaas. PAW's role was both to restore the beloved original pagent puppets from years ago, and to create new works for the procession, based on a different "honored animal" each year. A month before the event, we set up our workshop, and lead drop-in Puppetraisings. Since the return of Sinterklaas, nearly a thousand people have attended the workshops or performed in the procession, helping replant the seeds of an annual tradition for years to come.