'3 Kings' parade goes on despite economy

January 6, 2009 3:21:29 PM PST
Tough economic times nearly rained on a popular parade in Harlem Tuesday. January 6 is Three Kings Day, also called the Epiphany. It marks the three wisemen's arrival in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus. New York City's largest and longest running Three Kings Day celebration nearly didn't happen as planned.

Latinos all over the tri-state area partied along 3rd Avenue in East Harlem. Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day, comes 12 days after Christmas.

Joshua Perea explained to kids that the Christian holiday celebrates the biblical story of the three kings, who followed a bright star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to Christ.

"I'm dressed as a shepard," Perea said. "We were telling the kids the history of three kings in Latin America."

But part of this history lesson was in jeopardy. Organizers had a tough time putting the event together because of the tough economy.

Organizers didn't think they would have the animals this year. But the community got together, got the money and made sure they were there for the 32nd annual event.

Some 1,500 kids got to pet camels and sheep. Then, it was time for presents.

"There's always more need than resources," said well-known community leader Luis Miranda, who played one of the kings in the parade. "The important is to look at the positive. Let's look at the glass as half full."

As grim as 2009 looks financially, that's the plan. Look at things half full.

"We think that 2009 will be blessed with lots of gifts for our community," parade director Julin Zugaza Goitia said. "Thanks to the good spirit behind this institution."

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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