"...just a smile away from Whoville with a hint of It's a Wonderful Life."
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Sinterklaas Send-Off Celebration, Kingston, New York
Sinterklaas Festival Day, Rhinebeck, New York

Secret Helpmates Revealed

The 2014 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.
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