Annual Three Kings Day Parade dedicated to children and families from Puerto Rico
New York’s largest cultural and traditional celebration of the Christian holiday of the Epiphany celebrated its 21st anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 21 with a festive parade. The annual Three Kings Day Parade took place at the intersections of Meeker Street and Avenue of Puerto Rico (Graham Avenue) in Williamsburg.
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The Feast of the Epiphany, Three Kings Day commemorates the Biblical story of the three wise men from the East who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts — frankincense, gold and myrrh — to the infant Christ.
As tradition goes, on the Epiphany, which is celebrated 12 days after Christmas, before going to sleep, children leave grass or hay under their beds for the camels that carry the Three Kings on their travels to deliver gifts to children around the world. The next day, friends and families gather to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings.
This year’s parade was dedicated to the children and families of Puerto Rico who’ve been struggling to rebuild homes and regain power following the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.
This year’s Parade Godmother was NY1 News TV reporter Jeannine Ramirez who covers Brooklyn. “I was born and raised in Brooklyn,” Ramirez told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Sunset Park is the neighborhood where I grew up, but I’ve been in Williamsburg now for a long time. There’s a great Puerto Rican community here in Williamsburg as well as in Sunset Park.”
Ramirez called Three Kings Day a very Latino tradition. “We don’t finish celebrating Christmas until Three Kings Day,” Ramirez said. “That’s a highlight of the entire Christmas season. I celebrate it with my children. We keep our tree up until after Three Kings Day. We celebrate with gifts. We celebrate with a special dinner. So to be International Godmother at the Three Kings Day Parade in Brooklyn is phenomenal.”
The parades grand marshal was Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Lynch called it a special day to help the people of Puerto Rico. “We are here on this beautiful day to march down this street and remember those in Puerto Rico that are struggling,” Lynch told the Eagle. “But equally to pass the heritage along to the next generation of children not only in this neighborhood but across the city. And of course with the NYPD we always join with community.”
New York State Assemblymember Maritza Davila who represents the 53rd District (Bushwick-Williamsburg) said, “We’re here to celebrate the Three Kings Day Parade like we’ve done every year. I think the parade is more monumental this year and more significant because of what happened to Puerto Rico.” The Puerto Rican born Davila said, “You can see that the people are resilient. We’re here. We’re still fighting and we’re still helping our country but we’re in this together. We just keep going.”
The parade traveled down Graham Avenue in Williamsburg to the sound of Caribbean and Latin American music.
Local school children from Williamsburg and Bushwick dressed as kings and angels as they led the Three Kings, their camels, llamas and other animals along the parade route. There was also a colorful display of flags, costumes and floats.
Among those participating in this year’s parade were students and teachers from the P.S. 120 Magnet School of Architecture, Engineering and Design, John Ericsson Middle School 126, Middle School 50, Magnet School of the Performing Arts, El Puente Williamsburg Leadership Center and Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy.
Also marching were the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats, New York City Police Department Police Band and the NYPD Hispanic Society.
Detective Jenimarie Garcia-Cruz, president of the NYPD Hispanic Society, said, “It’s a tradition for us to be here today for our community. And we have all the police officers here along with our marching band.”
Sonia Velazquez, Puerto Rican community advocate volunteer added, “This parade means a lot to me. This is our culture. It was postponed because of the weather but we’re here now and I brought the family and they’re just so excited to be here.”
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