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No naughty children this year either: Sinterklaas and his entourage brave the rain as they enter the celebration |  Instagram HLN

No naughty children this year either: Sinterklaas and his entourage brave the rain as they enter the celebration | Instagram HLN

Sinterklaas did not have the nice weather of Spain. There’s a brass band, a colorful banner, a whole series of pets (including “Umbrella Pete”), Conchita, Ramon, the aptly named horse Slichtwervandag and many other friends. Due to the bad weather, there were fewer children and parents present this year to celebrate Santa Claus’s joyful arrival, but fortunately, Sinterklaas received good news during his annual speech on the balcony of the city hall: “No naughty children this year!”

As usual, this time the Sinterklaas steamer was moored on the pontoon at Steenplein. At one-thirty, parents and children – dressed or not – gradually arrive at Het Steen. The dripping will continue for a whole day, but this does not bother them. “It’s a shame that Sinterklaas doesn’t come in the summer,” laughs Jeroen (48 years old) with his son Matthias (2) in his arms. “We came from Herrnthut, and this is the first time we have come to watch the arrival.” “Saint Nicholas.” The kids really wanted to see him this year, instead of seeing him on TV. They found it very exciting. “My daughter actually crawled forward a little bit, standing against the fence.”

Bart (39) and his daughter Aline (6) from Antwerp stand next to Jeroen and Matthias. “We live nearby,” Bart says, “so you might as well come take a look, right?” Aline is a little nervous because she will see Santa soon. Although she says it was good: no reason to be nervous.

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Bram, Alain, Jeroen, and Matthias. © Claes de Scherder

Sinterklaas is docked at Het Steen.
Sinterklaas is docked at Het Steen. © Claes de Scherder

Graphics

Just before time: the Sinterklaas steamer docks. Bart Peeters and Mayor of Antwerp Bart de Wever salute Sinterklaas after the good saint has descended the boat from a smooth-looking staircase, after which Sinterklaas walks in a joyful procession from Steen via Ernst van Dijkkai and Sueckeroy to the Grote Markt.

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Marco (4 years old) and his sister Cesaria (5 years old) from Antwerp pose in Het Steen. They made a drawing especially for Santa. Their mother, Maite (37 years old), says: “Caesarea painted Saint and Pete, and Marco drew a whale.” “No, mom, this is the treasure map of Africa,” Marco corrects her.

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Maite, Marco and Caesarea.
Maite, Marco and Caesarea. © Claes de Scherder

Children waiting for Sinterklaas in Het Steen.
Children waiting for Sinterklaas in Het Steen. © Claes de Scherder

We play outside

Meanwhile, there’s atmosphere at Grote Markt with Kaatje, Viktor, Kamiel and De KetnetBand. At about a quarter to three, Sinterklaas arrives at Schoon Verdiep. There he addresses children, mothers and fathers. Among other things, it advocates playing outside, “and these can be very wild games, because children need to be able to have fun,” says Santa.

“But of course, children should never bully each other at play or at school. Never! Getting into petty mischief and hurt is certainly permissible. But even the smallest kind of bullying causes great grief, including for Santa. There is also Games you can play alone on such a screen, but you shouldn’t do it for a long time. Playing well is something you do with your friends.

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Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Naughty kids?

And then came the moment everyone had been waiting for. Are there naughty children this year? When Sinterklaas opened his large book and studied his notes carefully, things became interesting for a moment. Seems some kids have been naughty this year. There’s four-year-old Tor, who was going to give his mother some serious rags. It soon became clear that it was a matter of potholders. Thor gave it to him when his mother took a cake out of the oven, so he wouldn’t burn her hands. Oof! “Then I have very good news: there are no naughty children this year!” “And now everyone quickly goes into the dryer,” Saint Nicholas said the redeeming words.

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Nesrina (11) and Volem (11) from Antwerp were also good this year. They had just seen Santa Claus addressing the crowd from the front row. Are they not too cold? “Yes,” they laugh in unison. “But we managed to wave to Santa. He saw us and waved back. The schoolmates said: ‘We will put our shoes on today.’

Nesrina and Volemi
Nesrina and Volemi © Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Class de Scherder
© Claes de Scherder

Watch also. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas’ arrival got out of control: pro-black Piet threw fireworks and eggs at Kick Out Zwarte Piet supporters