WILLIAMSBURG — Children dressed as shepherds, angels and monks from schools in District 14 and 32 in Williamsburg and Bushwick proudly marched in New York’s largest traditional celebration of the Christian holiday of the Epiphany. This was the 23rd anniversary of the Brooklyn Three Kings Day Parade which took place on Sun., Jan. 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. following a pre-parade mass at All Saints Catholic Church at 11 a.m.
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.
Democratic District Leader Tommy Torres noted the cultural significance of the event he oversees every year. “It’s a beautiful day here and we have all the kids from the community coming out for our 23rd annual Brooklyn Three Kings Day Parade,” Torres told this paper. “For me as an assistant principal, to spread that knowledge about the parade and our culture to our kids is so important.”
This year’s Three Kings Day parade godmother was P.S. 257 Assistant Principal Idalys Tolentino and the godfather was Tomas Hernandez, a board member of the parade committee for 23 years.
Also attending was Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and administrator of Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, as well as vicar for development and director of parish giving programs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.
Among the elected officials marching in the parade — which began at the intersections of Meeker Avenue and Avenue of Puerto Rico (Graham Avenue) in Williamsburg — were Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, City Councilmember Robert Cornegy, Assemblymembers William Colton, Joe Lentol and Felix Ortiz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.
“I’m here to celebrate a very rich Hispanic tradition,” Colton told this paper. “In my area of South Brooklyn, we have a large Hispanic community. In fact, it really is an immigrant community where we also have a Chinese community, a Russian community, a Muslim community, an Italian community, an Irish community, and you can go on and on.”
Colton, whose district includes Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Dyker Heights and Midwood, explained the importance of trying to honor and celebrate all the cultural traditions of people in the district. “When you do that, people begin to respect each other’s traditions, each other’s food, each other’s values, and begin to work together, realizing they all have something in common,” said Colton.
“Their needs and their concerns are all in common. It’s events like this parade that are so important to celebrate because that’s what our city is all about,” he added.