World

Amsterdam says Dutch Santa's helper 'Black Pete' _ seen as racist by some _ can visit the city

  • Some  Dutch people dressed  in costume were among the several hundred that demonstrated in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, to show their determination to keep alive a tradition of allowing actors to wear blackface makeup during the country’s annual St. Nicholas festival for children. A vocal minority of Dutch people, especially of African descent, and many observers in the rest of the world think the Black Pete tradition is offensive, given Pete’s appearance includes curly hair, big red lips and black face-paint. But a large majority of Dutch people say Black Pete is a figure of fun and no racial insult is intended. Banner says: 'Don't delete Piet'. (AP Photo/ Patrick Post)

    Some Dutch people dressed in costume were among the several hundred that demonstrated in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, to show their determination to keep alive a tradition of allowing actors to wear blackface makeup during the country’s annual St. Nicholas festival for children. A vocal minority of Dutch people, especially of African descent, and many observers in the rest of the world think the Black Pete tradition is offensive, given Pete’s appearance includes curly hair, big red lips and black face-paint. But a large majority of Dutch people say Black Pete is a figure of fun and no racial insult is intended. Banner says: 'Don't delete Piet'. (AP Photo/ Patrick Post)  (The Associated Press)

  • Several hundred of Dutch people some in costume demonstrate in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, to show their determination to keep alive a tradition of allowing actors to wear blackface makeup during the country’s annual St. Nicholas festival for children. A vocal minority of Dutch people, especially of African descent, and many observers in the rest of the world think the Black Pete tradition is offensive, given Pete’s appearance includes curly hair, big red lips and black face-paint. But a large majority of Dutch people say Black Pete is a figure of fun and no racial insult is intended. Banner says: 'Don't delete Piet'. (AP Photo/ Patrick Post)

    Several hundred of Dutch people some in costume demonstrate in The Hague, Netherlands on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, to show their determination to keep alive a tradition of allowing actors to wear blackface makeup during the country’s annual St. Nicholas festival for children. A vocal minority of Dutch people, especially of African descent, and many observers in the rest of the world think the Black Pete tradition is offensive, given Pete’s appearance includes curly hair, big red lips and black face-paint. But a large majority of Dutch people say Black Pete is a figure of fun and no racial insult is intended. Banner says: 'Don't delete Piet'. (AP Photo/ Patrick Post)  (The Associated Press)

"Black Pete" is welcome in Amsterdam, despite opponents who say the helper of the Dutch version of Santa Claus is a racist caricature.

Amsterdam municipality said Wednesday the traditional arrival of Sinterklaas and his helper Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, can go ahead Nov. 17, despite official complaints filed by 21 citizens alleging the event is racist.

In a letter to aldermen, Mayor Eberhard van der Laan says the celebration in which St. Nicholas — Sinterklaas in Dutch — arrives by steamboat from Spain accompanied by a horde of Black Petes is constantly evolving.

Pete already has changed from a stereotypical subservient black servant to a playful clown who no longer has to have "curly hair, thick lips and doesn't necessarily need to be black" Van der Laan wrote.