The old gentleman is finally here, having arrived last Saturday afternoon on Bonaire’s Town Pier, all the way from Spain! There was much anticipation, especially by Bonaire’s little ones, as the long-awaited Sanikolas (Sinterklaas in Dutch) and his Zwarte Piet were due to arrive.
Everyone gathered in Wilhelmina Plaza, where there were myriad activities for kids (and not-so-young kids!), including go-cart rides, a bouncing house, and even a demonstration of Kids’ Zumba.
But even though these activities proved to provide ample entertainment, the old gentleman himself stole the show.
As the two tugboats came close to shore, everyone crowded along the ocean-side, to try and catch the first glimpse. As the tugs drew close to Town Pier, amid water salutes, the tugs themselves seemed to dance, spinning in place, proving Bonaire’s tugboat pilots have some very impressive boat handling skills.
But the anticipation kept mounting, and finally the tugs were docked, and the Piets exploded onto the dock with energetic moves, dances, and long full-body waves, performed to the beat of a drum corps. After a fine performance, Old St. Nick made his way down the dock to meet with everyone gathered.
Tradition dictates that Sanikolas and the Zwarte Piets will spend the coming weeks visiting the children of Bonaire. Young ones put their shoes out in a conspicuous place, and if they have been nice, he will leave presents and candy for them in their shoes on his special day, December 5th, the evening before he returns to Spain. Some believe that if they stuff their shoes full of hay and carrots, Sanikolas will visit them for sure so his horses can enjoy the tasty morsels.
But what if you’ve been naughty? Well, then you are stuffed in one of the Piet’s sack and carried back off to Spain where you will become a Zwarte Piet!
View a photo gallery below of the 2015 event. Click on any image to see an enlarged version.
Although there is much controversy in the European Netherlands over the Zwarte Piet, luckily for Bonaire there is no such concern, and a wonderful children’s tradition lives on. (Source: Bonaire Insider Reporter)