Before he was Santa Claus, he was Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, who lived during the 4th century in present-day Turkey. To the Dutch, who were the first Europeans to settle along the Hudson River, he became known as Sinterklaas — a bearded figure in a red-and-white outfit upon whom Santa Claus was based. Earlier this month, two 17th-century sites in the lower Hudson Valley celebrated that Dutch tradition.
On Dec. 2, the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow hosted Sinterklaas, who was portrayed by Hugh Francis and his horse Piper. Prior to their appearance, the story of Sinterklaas was told by Kerin McCue, who played a toymaker, and musician Jeremy Goldsmith. McCue works as a broadcaster for the Fox News Radio Network while Goldsmith, a sound engineer, and his wife, Mi-Won Kim, serve as the church’s music directors.
The next day, Saint Nicholas visited Philipse Manor Hall, a New York State historic site in Yonkers. Underneath the bishop’s miter was Glenn Borghoff. The event also featured the storytelling talent of April Armstrong and the culinary creations of Nancy Bauer, who baked apple chip bread, ginger snaps, pfeffernusse, pumpkin bread, seed cakes, snickerdoodles and a spiced sweet bread called Zoete Koek. Bauer’s father worked as the supervisor of Philipse Manor Hall. She and her family lived in an adjacent cottage.
Tim Lamorte is an award-winning journalist who has spent almost two decades documenting life along the Hudson River.