Monthly Archives: December 2016

Day Sixty: The Sinterklaas Parade in Rhinebeck, NY December 3rd, 2016

I have been participating in Sinkerklaas since 2010 when I went up to Rhinebeck with my father to meet Jeanne Fleming, the artist who runs the parade for an article I was writing and  to participate in all the activities and get involved in the parade. That year my dad and I held the banner at the end of the parade to let people know to meet at the end of the parade.

A lot has happened since then and this is the third time since that I have been involved with the parade . I had participated in two fundraisers to start the planning process, one the “Star Party” in Rhinebeck in November and the other “Sweets & Treats Party” in Kingston. Both were a lot of fun and it was nice to get to know people within the organization. It was a plus to raise money for the event.

I had stayed in Rhinebeck after a holiday fundraiser at the Mills Mansion and got to the parade route at 10:30am in the morning to help unload the floats and props out of the truck for the parade. It is interesting to see how a parade comes to life.

Most of the people I worked with had been working on the parade for years and really knew their stuff. They know exactly where things get placed and the condition of the props for the floats. We were lucky that the weather held out and it was a nice day as mostly everything is Paper Mache  and two years ago could not be used or else it would have fallen apart.

We unpacked the ballerina, Mother Earth and various bees, penguins, turtles, horses and this year’s mascot, the Owl. All the other animals had made appearances in the parade in other years when they were the mascots. I remember last year when we put the bees together for the parade. We put all the final touches on each of the puppets and the floats that needed extra parts added to them.

Our mascot this year was the Owl, which was prominent in all the artwork and in the giant puppets that were created for the parade. They were the stars at the middle of the parade. For most of the morning, we put together most of the puppets that people would be handling for the parade including stars, bees and horses. That’s when I found out that I would be the back of the dragon puppet that would fight a knight.

We got done with the basic set-up for the parade in about an hour and that gave me a chance to join in the activities. I was able to make the opening ceremony at the Beekman Arms in downtown Rhinebeck. There we met the people who ran the parade and many of the characters who would be walking around town including Mother Holly (who was feeling Jolly), the Owl Queen and her companion, a mouse, the Queen Bee (our hostess last year when the Bee was our mascot), the Pocket Lady, who showed her pockets of gifts, The Polar Bear and his trainer, who dances when you sing a song to him and several other costumed characters who would walking around town and the parade.

Jonathan Kruk, the famous storyteller, started his program telling stories of the Legend of St. Nicholas and life in Dutch New York, a story on Hanukkah and then a story on the Wise Old Owl Take. Mr. Kruk I have heard several times over the years in both Rhinebeck and Tarrytown and he is amazing at telling a story. He really captures an audience. He just has that type of voice that commands a room. Everyone was spell-bound by him as he knows how to tell a story. The Legend of St. Nicholas and he became Sinterklaas and eventually Santa Claus is very interesting and parts of it can be seen on YouTube.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at various sites all over Rhinebeck seeing college choirs and quartets from Bard, Vassar and SUNY. There were story tellers on the streets, the Wish Lady was walking around talking to people, the Grumpuses were dancing around town performing in parking lots and on lawns. There were musicans on stilts in costume playing their instruments to the crowds and all over the sidewalks charitable organizations were selling baked goods and other holiday treats. The most interesting prop they built for the event was the Coo Coo Clock in the alley in the downtown area that really worked and you could meet the Owl court.

I heard the church choir at the Third Evangelical Church and then had my lunch  in their basement room. Now I have been to the other church that served lunch and I am sorry that $4.00 for Mac & Cheese and $3.00 for a hot dog is ridiculous. Those are a rip off in New York City but for upstate New York? When I ate at the Lutheran Church you could get a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot dog with all the Christmas cookies you could eat with the meal for $1.00 each and they accepted it as a donation. Needless to say, I have eaten here since 2010. What’s nice is that all the parishioners bake their favorite cookies and that makes it even more special. The people who volunteer here could not be nicer and can really  cook.

After an afternoon of concerts, story-telling, musicals, shopping and touring the town, it was time to get ready for the parade. It is always exciting getting ready for a parade but this one is very hometown. It still is a local crowd even though people are beginning to come up from the city to see the parade. We met back at the Star Library up the hill and got ready to line up for the parade.

The weather dropped a bit. It was still cool but as cold as it could have been at this time of the year. I was assigned to hold a puppet and I held the back part of the dragon (Yes that is me on the back of the dragon puppet on a few YouTube videos). It is not the same as the balloons I used to carry in the Macy’s Parades back in the 90’s but it still took some work to carry the dragon puppet down the hill to the downtown area. I still got a kick at the guy who ran the front of the puppet. He got to engage with the crowd with the head of the puppet and get the face into the crowd. I just followed behind.

I could tell by the crowds that Sinterklaas is becoming  more popular as the crowds that lined the main street of Rhinebeck were about ten deep. People were very excited watching the floats and puppets ride by them. People were spreading out all over the street by time we made it to the heart of the downtown. I wish they had better crowd control as they narrowed the path to the point where they could walk right up to us. I could tell by the big smiles and the excited yells that people really enjoyed the parade.

As we progressed  through the crowd and I ran from one side of the street to the other chasing after the front of the dragon float, we exited to the town parking lot to the 6:30pm Pageant & the Children’s Star Ceremony. Here the crowds met with all the characters in the parade. The crowd got to meet Sinterklaas, the Owl Queen, the Snow Queen. the polar bear with his trainer, the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly and the Grumpuses. It was followed by a fire juggler performance that excited the crowd and a musical performance. it was a magical night to everyone in the crowd.

I ate at Pizzeria Posto (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most amazing thin-crusted pizza with sausage. The sauce is flavorful with fresh mozzaella and fresh basil with local sausage. The pizza and the service is excellent. They let me stay after the restaurant closed for the evening. That was service and they could not have been nicer.

It is a fun parade to be part of and I am looking forward to participating in Sinterklaas 2017. It is held the first Saturday of December but all year-long there are events to prepare for the event.

Just walking around Rhinebeck in its picturesque look can put anyone in the holiday mood. It looks like a village in a Currier & Ives print. There are white lights in the trees,  costume characters that walk around the town and after the sun falls, there is a sax player that plays Christmas songs. Again magical.

This was the Sinterklaas Parade that I participated in 2016. Look for me holding the back of the dragon. I credit this YouTube video to the attached contributor.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Fifty-Nine: The Bergen County Zoo “Follows the Yellow Brick Road Back to the Lodi Memorial Library” for ‘Wizard of Oz’ themed event with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library November 10, 2016.

I have had to put my walk on hold again for a month as I was organizing another visit from the Bergen County Zoo to the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library decided to do a series of events with the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to You Library”.

Our first event was the visit from Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick and finished with a huge fundraiser at Friendly’s Restaurant in Woodland Park, New Jersey. We reached out to the Lodi Community and the surrounding towns with engaging, innovative programming that appeals to all ages.

This event featured two innovative programs that were created by the Bergen County Zoo exclusively for the library, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals” and “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”. Both programs included a reading of the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ tailored to that program.

In the first program, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals”, zoo educator Carol Fusco created a program to show the children and their parents what animals live in a barnyard and what animals ‘Dorothy’ might have taken care of while working on the farm. She went through what animals are available to see at the zoo versus what animals you might  see on a working farm in New Jersey and beyond. She then asked the kids what animals they have seen recently to a very engaging discussion of what is in their own backyards.

Then she brought out a special guest, ‘Butterscotch’ the chicken, who came out to visit us all the way from the Bergen County Zoo. This gentle little bird was so friendly I swear that she smiled at me. The kids just loved her and some of them got to pet her. I can tell you that that chicken did not blink and the kids got such a kick out of it (I could tell the parents did as well with the big smile on some of their faces).

FOLML Spring Event II

The second program, “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”, Carol and her partner from the zoo read a section of the book after Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West and how the monkeys were indebted to Dorothy for freeing them from the clutches of the evil witch. They explained who the monkey’s really were to the kids and made them less afraid of them. I thought it was an interesting they took that perspective on how misunderstood the characters were in the movie versus the book.

Then there was a discussion of mammals who fly and there place in the wild. There was an interesting discussion how animals fly and the place in nature that they had. The educators passed around pictures of different animals and explained how they live in the wild. For a program that was geared to kids from the first grade to third grade I really learned a lot. I never knew that much about animals from the perspective of the zoo keepers but it opened my eyes on their place in society. Plus I got a kick out of holding the chicken. It is really a great chicken.

We had about 30 people at the event and a mixture of age groups including a lot of parents and grandparents join us for the afternoon. I even had the parents walk up to me and say that they learned a lot as well. That made me feel good that the Friends could offer such a nice educational program that engaged the kids and got them off their cell phones. It was a younger crowd then I had thought we would attract but it seemed to me that the families all had a good time and were happy that the zoo came to them.

The program was followed by a light reception with all sorts of cookies, fresh fruit, wrap sandwiches and chicken fingers that were donated by Inserra ShopRite of Lodi. We want to thank them and Inserra Supermarkets for their support. Thank you!

For those who have never been to the Bergen County Zoo, it is a real treat. It is located in Paramus, New Jersey in the Van Saun Park off Forrest Avenue. It is a real treat and has a nice selection of animals to visit and more creative programming to experience. A big Thank you to Carol Fusco and her team for creating such a great program for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope you enjoyed the program.

Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library events:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html