Sinterklaas festively welcomed in Amsterdam

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Sinterklaas and his helpers sailed into Amsterdam on Sunday around 10:00. After his visit to Groningen on Saturday, the Saint visited the Dutch capital on Sunday.

After a boat trip on the river Amstel Sinterklaas set foot ashore by the Maritime Museum around 10:00. Just before the steamer docked, the VOC ship next to the museum fired two shots by way of welcome.

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Mayor Eberhard van der Laan welcomed the Saint. Sinterklaas explained they experienced some bad weather on the way, but he and his helpers are very happy to visit The Netherlands. He then mounted his horse and began a journey through the capital.

The Saint was accompanied by about six hundred helpers.

Unlike the entry in Groningen, the Amsterdam 'zwarte Pieten' underwent a few adjustments to their appearance. They did not wear earrings, and they wore different color lipstick and a variety of hair do's.

When the Saint arrived at the Dam around 13:30, about twenty protesters were gathered there. Their protest against Zwarte Piet was uneventful. Some had their mouths sealed with tape in protest. Around 14:00 the Saint continued his journey through the city with a speech from the balcony of the City Theatre as the final part of the welcome program.

Mayor Van der Laan thanked everybody for their coöperation in making the event a festive one without any incidents. He thanked the Saint's helpers, the protesters, the public and the police for their part.

According to the organizers throughout the parade a supreme Sinterklaas mood prevailed in Amsterdam. Along the route the saintly man rode on his horse were thousands of children dressed as 'Pietjes', some painted black, others with black streaks, rainbow colors or without makeup.

The entry also drew many foreign media to the Dutch capital. There were camera crews from ARD, VRT and Al Jazeera present, to name a few.

During the arrival of Sinterklaas in Groningen, the Saint was flanked by nine officers who were dressed as 'zwarte Piet'. The nine officers were part of an arrest unit, reported RTV Noord based on sources.

The police were afraid of disturbances that might arise because of the heated debate around Zwarte Piet. The nine police 'Pieten' wore bulletproof vests and were armed. The entry eventually went without disturbances.