Web Sites, Documents and Articles >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

City Celebrates Three Kings Day

Festive Procession Ends With Gift Distribution In Park

January 7, 2006
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer

Hartford Schools Superintendent Robert Henry laughed as he mounted a pregnant, 10-foot camel to ride in the city's annual Three Kings Day parade Friday.

"It's not like riding a horse, I can tell you that," said Henry, who obtained some camel-riding experience during a visit to Egypt a few years ago. Dressed in colorful velvet robes and satin turbans, Henry and Hartford business owners Stanley Gutt and Carlos Alvarez portrayed this year's Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, the three kings who in the bible followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.

"I was moved to think that the members of the Hispanic community that are putting on this Three Kings event thought enough about me to play Caspar," said Gutt, a longtime Park Street-area landlord and owner of South Green Realty LLC.

As in previous years, the parade began in front of the Spanish American Merchants Association at 95 Park St. and concluded with a distribution of toys to local children at the Pope Park Recreation Center. Led by Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, marchers included Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, state Sen. John Fonfara, state Rep. Evelyn Mantilla, Hartford Councilman Calixto Torres and several Latino community groups. Parade sponsors were SAMA and the Institute for the Hispanic Family.

Park Street was bursting with children of all ages who had a day off from school. They perched on parents' shoulders or pulled them excitedly by the hand as they waited for the camels and kings to pass. Above Rios' Little Mall at 469 Park St., both the young and old hung out apartment windows laughing and waving, while customers of the nearby Edge Masters Barbershop took a few minutes between trims to watch, shouting "Look at that camel. ...Where'd they get that thing?"

Hartford resident Migdalia Rodriguez, who attended the parade with her 11-year-old son, Jonathan Cedeno, and 3-year-old granddaughter, Cristaliz Rodriguez, said she wants her children to know about the Three Kings tradition. She said she planned to cook a special meal, exchange gifts and spend time with her family.

"This was a special day when the baby Jesus was born and we thank God for everything," said Rodriguez. "It's a nice time for the poor kids who have nothing. They get to celebrate."

Magda Vargas of Hartford watched with her daughters Amy and Vanessa, ages 13 and 11. Though the family doesn't celebrate the Three Kings tradition, Vargas said she has happy memories of the day when she lived in Puerto Rico as a child.

"I remember getting up early in the morning and looking under my bed and finding presents," she said.

New Britain residents Taisuee Perez and Eduardo Vargas and their four children watched the camels with interest, then slowly followed the procession up the street.

"In Puerto Rico, we would celebrate today and give gifts today. ...Santa Claus is not such a big thing," said Perez. "We travel back and forth to Puerto Rico and we want to keep the tradition alive. This is what Christmas is all about."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?