Sunday 18 April 2021

It’s only May, but Amstelveen is grappling with Zwarte Piet

The committee which organises the annual Sinterklaas procession in Amstelveen has resigned en masse because the members don’t agree with making changes to the character of Zwarte Piet, the Parool said on Friday.

The council executive has told town councillors that despite meetings over several years, the committee has refused to budge. The town council itself had called for the introduction of other types of Piet in the annual parade in addition to the traditional black face version three years ago.

‘In Amstelveen we believe in upholding our traditions but we also think it is important that everyone feels acknowledged and welcome,’ the executive committee said in a briefing to councillors.

The chairman of the Sinterklaas committee told local broadcaster RTVA that they want to keep the event traditional. ‘It is about the magic of a children’s party,’ Harry Tros said.

‘Piets with soot smudges are easily recognizable as Uncle Wim or the next door neighbour. And because so many of our Piets come from Amstelveen, a lot of children will recognize them.’

Tros also said that problems with the licencing for the parade is another major reason the committee has resigned.

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