Rhinebeck, New York
Sinterklaas Festival Day
Rhinebeck, New York
"...just a smile away from Whoville with a hint of It's a Wonderful Life."
—Huffington Post

Category: News

Secret Helpmates Revealed

Since 2014 the Sinterklaas Celebration was “adopted” by the Rhinebeck Rotary Club as part of the international organization’s worldwide initiative called “Light Up Rotary.”

Rhinebeck, NY – “It takes a village…,” a phrase borrowed from a wise African proverb resonates distinctly in Rhinebeck during the start of the winter season, when the Hudson Valley celebrates Sinterklaas in Kingston and Rhinebeck. Now that the spring thaw is here, that “village” — in reality, a variety of local villages and towns – is coming together again to plan for the 8th annual Sinterklaas celebration in 2015.

Sinterklaas in April? “Yes, it’s that time again,” says Jeanne Fleming, director of Hudson Valley Community Productions and the Sinterklaas celebration. “It takes a village, that’s for sure, and nearly an entire year to bring all the elements together – and that starts with the people who make it all happen!”

And just who is it that makes it all happen? That has been a question that has been shrouded in mystery since the very first Sinterklaas celebration in 2008. “That’s a big question to answer,” quips Fleming.

The short answer — Sinterklaas happens because of the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of people in the Hudson Valley. People from everywhere — Individual volunteers, community organizations, artists, teachers, students, parents, business leaders, religious institutions, local funders, as well as local, county and state lawmakers — all play a role in bringing Sinterklaas to life each year. Since the first Sinterklaas in 2008, Fleming has amassed a wide array of talent and resources and charmed them all into providing the necessary services and taking on a variety of tasks.

“So many people help, but this past year, the stand-up, stand-out organization was the Rhinebeck Rotary Club. They have been with us from the very beginning, providing both financial support and incredible people power. And last year, they went all out to make sure Sinterklaas was the best ever, even though we had some mighty challenges,” said Fleming.

The 2014 Sinterklaas Celebration was “adopted” by the Rhinebeck Rotary Club as part of the international organization’s worldwide initiative called “Light Up Rotary.” Over 40 Rotarians, and 50 students from the Rhinebeck Interact Club, came together to help Fleming’s all volunteer crew manage the massive Children’s Starlight Parade that culminates the day-long event. The Rotary Club provided 20 marshals to line the parade route, ensure safety and give directions to the large crowds. The remaining members helped fill the 200 puppet positions to animate the 2-story tall puppets used in the parade.

“And this past year, it was cold and raining – our most challenging conditions ever. But the Rotary and Interact Club members stood strong and made it all look fun and effortless. I don’t know how we would have managed without all the extra help we received from the Rotary. Afterward, we got so many compliments on how wonderful the parade came together despite the weather,” added Fleming.

Other long-time supporters of the Sinterklaas Celebration in Rhinebeck include the Beekman Arms, Upstate Films, Samuel’s, Liberty, Fosters Coach House, The Rhinebeck Courtyard, merchants of Enjoy Rhinebeck, Church of the Messiah, the Reform Church of Rhinebeck and the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce. Many businesses in the center of town, including Winter Sun/Summer Moon, Blue Cashew, Oblong Books, Montgomery Row, Oliver Kita, Hummingbird Jewelers, and others support fundraising and host special events.

“I could go on for days about the many, many individuals who help all year long – they come from all over the area, from every village and town – and make our tiny village one enormous hub of joy and celebration,” beams Fleming. “It is a blessing to have this kind of community engagement. It seems like there is nothing we cannot accomplish!”
Sinterklaas planning is beginning now. For more information on how to get involved and get in on the joy, please visit the website www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com or the Sinterklaas Rhinebeck Facebook page.
Meet all our supporters.

Rhinebeck Rotary, Kirchoff-Consigli Construction Management, and New York State — what do they have in common?

They all SUPPORT Sinterklaas!

Recently, these early Sinterklaas supporters stepped up in big ways to help make this year’s Sinterklaas the best year yet!

The Rhinebeck Rotary, who honored Jeanne Fleming and Pat Sexton as 2014 Citizens of the Year for their community service, continues to honor Sinterklaas through their “Light Up Rotary” program! The Rotary has made a substantial financial contribution and pledged the service of their members and members of the local youth Interact Club to lend valuable assistance to the Starlight Parade! Rotary members will work together to support all aspects of the Parade — help with set up and line up of the Parade, as Parade Marshals, as Puppet Animators, right through to our onstage Pageant at the end of the Parade. They will be with us all the way! Thank you, Rhinebeck Rotary, Interact Club, Kiki Steele, and Phillip Meltzer for giving so much to so many!

Our hard hats are off to Kirchoff- Consigli Construction Management who donated funds to help the Village of Rhinebeck meet the costs of managing the traffic flow on Sinterklaas Day.

Two community grants to Kingston and Rhinebeck were supported by our newly re-elected Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill. Wonderful that the economic development Sinterklaas contributes to our area is being recognized by our leaders! The arts keep our towns alive! Viva Sinterklaas!

‘Yes, Virginia … there is a Sinterklaas’

River Chronicle Editorial, December 2014

It’s understood, of course, that the opinions shared on this page are not agreed upon with all who read what we’ve got to say week-to-week.

But it’s safe to assume, maybe, that this week’s declaration might fall into the category of a statement that everyone will agree with universally.

And that would be the Sinterklaas organizers and the participants – including the thousands of community members who donned raincoats and clutched umbrellas in order to be there this year – deserve resounding kudos for putting on an awesome and amazing seasonal event for all to enjoy.

For those of us who missed it, there are plenty of photographs in this week’s issue documenting the festivities.

Beyond totally enveloping the community in the spirit of the season, Sinterklaas should be lauded and celebrated for also serving as an example that in this modern world —where often slick marketing creates an anticipation that falls flat with disappointment upon the delivery of an event, a thing, a performance — that true authenticity still exists.

Through months and months of preparation, dogged dedication and original creation, as
opposed to hyping a mirage of doing so, Sinterklaas is so totally unique in its authenticity. One might say the fantastical and mythical theme of the day-long festival is the “real deal” in what it promises and what it delivers.

Children made their own whimsical crowns and accoutrements. Costumes of the various characters are handmade. Everything about Sinterklaas is so rugged in its originality; down to the hand-painted and constructed signs that announce the coming festivities in the Village of Rhinebeck.

How many things are there really nowadays, outside of personal moments with family and friends, that simultaneously instigate goose bumps, put a smile on your face and maybe bring a slight sentimental tear to the eye?

Think about it….those really are the ingredients for a special holiday season moment.

So, thank you, to the organizers for another outstanding Sinterklaas. As stated above, without a doubt, we’re not the only ones singing your praises for gifting this amazing event to the community, once again.