Eduardo Arocho –
Hundreds of children, parents, and community members endured the freezing temperatures to participate in the 15th Annual Three Kings Winter Festival & Parade held on Wednesday, January 6. This tradition on Paseo Boricua is one of the highlights of the New Year and has grown to be one of the most anticipated family festivals in Humboldt Park.
As in previous years, families gathered at Rebaño Compañerismo Church (2435 West Division) to register, enjoy some hot chocolate and rosca de reyes, a sweet bread traditionally served on Three Kings Day, as they waited to board the double-decker bus and trolley for the parade. This year, recently appointed 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado and his family rode on the horse and wagon with the Three Kings who are always represented by members of the Latin American Motorcycle Association (LAMA), a key sponsor of the parade and a major contributor of toy donations along with the Chicagoland Toys For Tots.
The Three Kings celebration on Paseo Boricua first began in 1995, when the first bandera was inaugurated on the corner of Artesian and Division. On that day, snow fell upon the flag that was still being welded together up until the press conference that afternoon, attended by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, then-Alderman of the 26th Ward Billy Ocasio, and Mayor Richard M. Daley, among a host of other political leaders. Paso fino horses were brought in from a suburban stable to be ridden by the Three Kings down Division Street after the press conference. But it wasn’t until 2000 that Three Kings Day began to be celebrated as a winter festival and parade, with trolleys, horse and carriage and an immense toy drive.
This year, the parade procession marched a mile along Division Street until it reached the Humboldt Park Field House, where music and gifts were given to the delight of the children of the community. The parade was organized by the Three Kings Parade committee, consisting of the Division Street Business Development Association, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, LAMA, the Chicago Park District, Alderman Roberto Maldonado, Chicagoland Toys for Tots, and Rebaño Compañerismo Church. Moreover, this year’s parade enjoyed the sponsorship support of Extra newspaper, the 2010 Census, Verizon, Comcast, and La Voz Del Paseo Boricua. The success of this year’s parade is a good omen for the New Year. ¡Felicidades!