Feliz Día de los Tres Reyes Magos – Happy Three Kings Day

On Thursday, January 6, 2011, El Museo del Barrio held its 34th annual Three Kings Day Parade winding through the streets of Spanish Harlem.  For Latin-American countries, and also Christians throughout the world, the Epiphany or Three Kings Day, is traditionally known as the day when Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior followed a star in the sky which led them to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, bringing gifts of incense(myrrh), frankincense and gold.

At the private breakfast before the parade, I was in awe of the many Public Elected Officials in attendance along with the many honored guests of the parade.  Every year, three honorary “kings” are chosen to lead the parade.  This year they were, Emmy award-winning, WNBC correspondent Lynda Baquero; poet, playwright and one of the original founders of the “Nuyorican poets movement”, Jesús Papoleto Meléndez and former director/CEO of El Museo del Barrio, Julián Zugazagoitia.  They were also dressed in costumes designed exclusively for them by Emilio Sosa, season 7 finalist of the hit TV series, Project Runway.  Padrinos and madrinas (godfathers and godmothers), of the parade are also chosen not only because of their impressive resumes, but because they have established themselves as leaders and activists for the community and for El Museo del Barrio.  The padrinos chosen were brothers Robert and Jorge Ayala, Luis Cordero, Matthew Washington and Daniel Reyes.  Among the distinguished group of madrinas were Leticia Alanis, Maria Alejandro, Angela Fernández, Frances Lucerna and Taína Traverso.

As always, El Museo strives to make this a community event, with an astonishing 3,400+ children from local schools, along with invited dance groups, bands and musicians marching in the parade.  Museum volunteers work diligently days before the actual parade takes place, making crowns and maracas for all of them.  Immediately after the parade is over, with the help of donations, El Museo also generously gives every child participating in the parade a gift to take home!

Marching in the parade brought back many wonderful memories.  My birthday also happens to fall on this day, and I can recall so many different memories of being told the story of the Three Kings.  How I would leave cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, and then a shoe box full of grass under my bed for the camels a few days later.  Priceless memories.  Thank you to El Museo del Barrio for not only putting on a beautiful parade, but also doing their part in keeping tradition and culture alive.

To find out more information on El Museo del Barrio’s events, exhibits or to volunteer, please visit:
You can also find and “like” them on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/elmuseo

NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn speaking at the breakfast before the parade.
Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez
Emmanuel and some of the many volunteers hard at work making crowns.
With more of the wonderful volunteer
Rosanna Rosado, publisher of “El Diario”, NYC largest and oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the US
Emmy award-winning WNBC correspondent Lynda Baquero.
My “sister” queen, Miss New York Belleza Latina 2011, Danaelis Zapata.
Live camels are always part of the parade.
One of the many talented groups participating.
Former El Museo del Barrio Director/CEO Julián Zugazagoitia in his “king” costume, next to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. On far right is Jorge Ayala co-owner of “La Fonda” Restaurant and one of the “padrinos” at the parade.
With “Miss Colombia Queen of Queens” and her poodle Carinho

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