THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch version of St. Nicholas is due to arrive in the Netherlands in an annual children’s party that has become the backdrop for increasingly acrimonious confrontations between supporters and opponents of his sidekick, Black Pete.

White people often don blackface makeup to play the character. Opponents say such depictions promote racist stereotypes, while supporters defend the helper of Sinterklaas, the white-bearded, red-robed Dutch version of St. Nicholas, as a traditional children's character.

On Saturday, the nationally televised arrival of Sinterklaas is happening, amid tight security, in the central city of Apeldoorn.

Last week, a group of protesters vandalized cars and threw fireworks at the venue of a meeting of anti-Pete activists and on Thursday and Friday police detained three people for making online threats to the festivities in Apeldoorn.

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