These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

sinterklaas...a hit this year

i was dreading this year's sinterklaas event, especially after last year's fiasco in front of the holland museum. sinterklaas for you non-dutch folks is a dutch tradition that has carried on to our little town. although, the tradition has not been around here that long.

anyway, i have a story about last year's experience, which was the opposite of this year. this year, the short parade went down eighth street to the market place near the civic center. dennis and i, the dynamic duo, headed out,bundled up and headed to the hordes of people. i missed the old guy (complete with white beard) on his white steed and his helper zwarte piet (dark peter) running around the stret.
it happened so quick, i missed the old guy and freaked when people started walking west on eighth street.

anyway, i caught up to this woman walking with her kids and got some good comments from he. later, at the market place, i snagged two more adults and a teenage girl. my mission complete, i headed back to the office a couple of hundred yards away and wrote the story -- this time from the angle of it being the first sinterklaas to head to and end at themarket place. quite content, the story was done with no hesitation. (then i finished up another weekend story involving a boating mystery on lake huron. but that's for a different day.).

last year, though, was a different circumstance for me. the it was my first sinterklaas and didn't know what to expect. it was dreary, drizzly and cold. i was quite accustomed to the michigan cold. i was taken aback by the amount of kids and parents on the street. as a reporter, sometimes too much (as in people) can hinder the process of interviewing. i prefer to have fewer people, making my job easier. but when there is a thousand, it works against me. dumb, i know. but that's how i feel.

anyway, the parade would start on eighth street and head south on central ave. to centennial park, where sinterklaas and our king would light the lights at the park. it's a grand event. very nice to see and experience.

so i am surronded by tns of kids, snow on the ground and cold. i grab a family who's dutch and came from out of town for this event (they've come for years to experience it). then i head off to the museum where the old guy is inside to meet with the kiddies. i am outside the museum trying to talk to them and the parents.

here's where it gets really unfunny. and i will preface it by saying i'm wearing a blakc leather coat and a black hat over my head.

my cell rings and it's jim hayden saying in a hurried voice not to panic but that there's a policeman on his way to talk to me about talking to kids. someone reported a guy talking to kids and pretending to write notes, saying he worked for the paper. when they heard the call over the office scanner, they knew it was moi by the description.

i could have left and in hindsight, i should hve gotten the hell out of there quickly and would have made it back to the office before (insert harrison's white ablum song title here) arrived. but i was being diligent and professional and stayed since i didn't have a really good quote. i finally got one. i finished. but i notice the police car behind me and the guy taps my shoulder.

he wants to see my ID. i show him and tell him i work for the paper. he said i should have an work ID. i didn't have one. what could i say. he took down my info and sid i should have had one and left. i took off, furious and cussing.

i could't believe some twat called the cops on me. if they were so concerned, the person should have approached me. i couldn't write because the ink in my pen is frozen due to the cold. legite excuse. i pretend so that the kids don't freak when they see the little recorder underneath my note pad. now, i don't care so much. it's cold and there's no pretense. also, anyone could forge an office ID if they wanted to and pretend to be a reporter. i know that if i didn't have to be out there working (since i don't have children), i wouldnt' be there.

so for a year, i had been dreading this year's sinterklaas. no heed. it was sweet.
but i still can't shake the fact that someone thought i was there to check out the kids. that's really creepy. sometimes i wish i knew who the person was so i could approach him or her to ask why it was done.

oh well, long live sinterklaas and zwarte piet!!