Latin pride in full force during Three Kings’ Celebration at Uprose

January 10, 2014 Jaime DeJesus
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The first snowstorm of the New Year delayed a Sunset Park holiday celebration, but not for long. On January 4, UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization, held its first Three Kings’ Celebration just a day after the storm. Members of the community gathered for an afternoon of food, music, art and poetry.

“This is our first year doing a Three Kings’ party. It’s a cultural celebration,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE. “We want to keep the tradition going. It’s all about giving.” Also known as Dia de Los Reyes, Three Kings Day is when children receive gifts brought by the three kings. For many, it’s a more significant holiday than Christmas.

President of the Boricua Festival Committee, Pat Ruiz collaborated with Yeampierre to make the event happen. “I think it’s a great idea to keep the holiday alive and let people know it’s still here,” said Ruiz, who noted that second or third generation Puerto Ricans born in Brooklyn may not be aware of the holiday.

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Ruiz also gave high praise to Yeampierre and her work with Uprose. “What she has done for environmental justice and what she does for the kids has been amazing.”

The non-profit organization also seized the opportunity to raise awareness of the Puerto Rican Youth Initiative, a two-month program dedicated to educating students about Puerto Rican culture and politics. Those that attended the party were requested to make a $5 donation for the cause. “Sometimes the Latin and Black youth is lagging in areas. We want to address those needs and draw attention,” added Yeampierre.

The food provided at the event included such Latino cuisine staples as Pernil and Arroz con Gandules. Throughout the afternoon, those in attendance watched artist Albert Areizaga complete a portrait of a woman, which took hours. After brief introductions from Ruiz and Yeampierre, it was time for various performances.

Recording artist and professional dancer Anthony Rodriguez performs at UPROSE's Three Kings Day celebration. (BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photo by Jaime DeJesus)

Recording artist and professional dancer Anthony Rodriguez was in attendance to perform a slew of solo material, including a song entitled “Boricua Lover.” Rodriguez was a part of Madonna’s dance team during her world tour. He has also choreographed videos for artists such as Prince, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.

After Rodriguez’s five song set, the open mic portion of the day followed.  Writers and anyone that wished to participate recited their poems. First up was Eric Acevado, whose material focused on the uniqueness of growing up in Brooklyn.

Eric Ramos, who was attending an UPROSE event for the first time, understood the significance of raising awareness of the holiday. “For us people from the Caribbean, Three Kings’ Day is the most important celebration. It’s very important for us to get together and continue the celebration,” said Ramos, who also believes in the social causes that UPROSE champions.

Towards the end of the afternoon, New York State Assemblymember Felix Ortiz addressed the crowd. “This is important what you’re doing here,” he said. “I hope that we can continue to work together. These are many memories that you brought back for me. It’s amazing.”

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