Camels In Harlem? Three Kings Day Parade kicks off

Posted On January 6, 2007

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East Harlem was filled with color and pageantry as the 30th annual Three Kings Day parade took to the streets Friday.

Three Kings Day, or the Feast of the Epiphany is officially tomorrow, the 12th day after Christmas. The parade symbolizes the journey the three kings made to Bethlehem in the nativity story. The holiday is celebrated throughout the world.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hosted a reception in honor of Three Kings Day Thursday night. He hailed the holiday as a great way to bring communities together to ring in the New Year. A handful of camels and some sheep joined the marchers, along with children from across the city.

“We worked so hard; we colored it; we made it,” said one of the children who made his own decorative hat for the parade. “It is an honor to come here and be with the children and fill them with good cheer and this year is the 30th anniversary and the 30th parade so that’s a big deal, too, so I’m happy to be here,” said Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez portrayed one of the Three Kings in the parade.

Two of the other men dressed as the Three Kings said the tradition is very special to the Latino community, especially. “Our Three Kings, each of them comes from a different country or Latin America or they have been born here but are from different origins,” said one of the kings. “Like the kings came all together bringing gifts, it’s all Latinos bringing gifts to New York City.”

“I think this is a great present to the community in the sense of celebrating and bringing back all this tradition that’s really important to us and I think that’s the biggest present of this celebration,” added another of the Three Kings.

The parade is organized by El Museo del Barrio. It kicked off at 11 a.m. at 106th Street and Madison Avenue and proceeds along Park Avenue up to 116th Street.

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