1-Tank Adventure: Dutch Sinterklaas of the Hudson Valley

HUDSON VALLEY, NY – Sinterklaas celebrations are a quintessentially Dutch tradition, but settlers first brought these traditions to Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley over 300 years ago.

The Hudson Valley Sinterklaas Festival celebrates the holiday by honoring the man known as the patron saint of children and sailors with a decidedly American twist. Although the holiday has religious roots, organizers say the revived tradition is completely non-denominational and everyone is welcome.

The hallmarks of the Dutch observance of Sinterklaas are highlighted during the festival with a nod to the earliest holiday rituals that date back to the very founding of Rhinebeck, when a town resident dressed up as Sinterklaas. and rode a white steed through town, knocking on doors late at night.

Sinterklaas was accompanied by the Grumpus, also known as Zwarte Piet. To the Good Children – Sinterklaas and the Grumpus delivered a bag of goodies. At the most mischievous children, the Grumpus rattled chains and threatened to steal them from his big black bag. And for the “less bad” he had switches for less severe punishments.

While chocolate letters representing each child’s name and favorite Dutch treats are available all over town, the Grumpus is a much more Americanized version, without the traditional and controversial makeup. The Dutch Zwarte Piet, a beast of non-human legend, is often depicted in black make-up (to represent the soot from the chimney that he descends to enter the homes of naughty children) in the Netherlands. Zwarte Piet has created worldwide controversy for its uncomfortable parallels to the racist blackface performances popularized by acts of vaudeville in the United States.

The Grumpus in the Rhinebeck festival is carefully crafted to avoid any potentially offensive undertones.

Sinterklaas tours eventually turned into a parade which still takes place every December 5th in the Netherlands and remains the most popular of all Dutch public holidays. When the first Dutch settlers arrived in America, they brought with them their favorite holiday, Sinterklaas. Dutch explorers dedicated their first church in New Amsterdam to Sinterklaas in 1642.

The Hudson Valley Sinterklaas Festival will take place on the first Saturday in December of each year. The full schedule of events is available here.

Parking can be a challenge on the days of the Sinterklaas festival. Fortunately, there is a chance to win a VIP parking spot through the parking lot raffle.

Police station parking, including charging stations, will be closed to the public on December 3 and 4. Parking will be reserved for law enforcement personnel and firefighters.

No parking all day in these streets:

  • North side of South Street from Route 9 to Route 308.
  • South side of South Street opposite the church – approximately 60 feet from Route 9.
  • South side of Livingston Street from Center Street to Mulberry Street.
  • On both sides of West Market Street, from Oak Street to the Town Highway Garage.
  • West side of Center Street from Livingston Street to South Street.
  • West side of Lorraine Drive.
  • On both sides of South Parsonage Street, from South Street to North Park.
  • East side of Oak Street.
  • On both sides of West Chestnut Street.

No parking after 2 p.m. on:

  • On both sides of East and West Market streets, from Center Street to Oak Street.
  • On both sides of Route 9 from Chestnut Street to South Street.
  • The municipal parking lot in the village closes at 2 p.m.

The Rhinebeck Bank car park will be closed at 1:00 p.m. The ATM at the wheel will remain open until 3 p.m. All vehicles in prohibited parking areas will be towed at the owner’s expense. East Market Street between Rte. 9 and rue Center will be closed to traffic from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Available car parks:


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