St Nicholas has been in the Netherlands for the last two weeks, and last Saturday he paid a visit to Erasmus University, where children aged 4-9 had gathered to meet him. About 250 children had made their way to the Auditorium with their parents to meet the Saint.
Drums could be heard all the way from Kralingse Zoom metro station last Saturday morning, as a samba band welcomed visitors. The children and their parents were treated to pepernoten (ginger nuts), speculaas (speculoos) and other sweets in the Cum Laude room before moving the party to the Auditorium on the instructions of the ever-so-cheerful Petes.
At the Auditorium, acrobats Dunne Deur and Knuppo showed off some skills, while the children watched from the steps to the stage and often joined in. Jumping and laughing kids helped Knuppo pull a prank on Dunne Deur. And the acrobats’ performance wasn’t the only thing that impressed the children; they were quite impressed with the Auditorium itself. Some of the more imaginative children had visions of the aisle towards the stage being a slide, while the rows of seats appeared like a labyrinth to those who were too short to be able to peek over the backs of the seats.
On St Nicholas’ arrival, he was presented with lots of drawings and was surrounded by children asking him all sorts of questions. ‘So when Pete passes through the chimney, how come he can clean his clothes so quickly, but not his face?’ a boy asked. ‘St Nicholas, is it true that you were caught speeding once?’ asked a girl who remembered seeing this reported on TV. ‘It was an emergency,’ St Nicholas explained with a smile. ‘I had a present which needed to be delivered urgently.’
Finally, the eagerly awaited presents were distributed. Some kids loved theirs, such as four-year-old Lianne, who got a case full of crafting supplies. According to her mother, the girl with the blonde braids had insisted on attending the party dressed in a pink princess gown rather than a Pete costume. Nine-year-old Nasira did not get the game she had hoped for, but was happy with the game she did get.
Blue plush elephant
In the end, everyone left the party with a smile on their face. Three-and-a-half-year-old Lucas left holding a blue plush elephant, St Nicholas’ special treat to all children who attended the event. Did Lucas receive anything else? ‘Sweets,’ he said cheerfully, producing some spekjes (diamond-shaped marshmallows) from one of his pockets. He seemed to be very happy with them.