The city will mark Three Kings Day, or the Feast of the Epiphany, today with a parade that includes live camels and marchers in bright robes.
The event celebrates the day that the Three Kings — Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar — arrived in Bethlehem on camels bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the infant Jesus. Mayor Pedro Segarra will walk in the parade dressed as one of the kings.
The celebration, which has been held in Hartford for more than 30 years, is important to the city's Latino community, said Angel Sierra, president of the Spanish American Merchants Association.
In Puerto Rico, as in many other parts of Latin America, families celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ, but most follow the example of the Magi and exchange gifts on Three Kings Day, observed on Jan. 6.
"As we get older, I think kids lose some of the tradition, and we need to keep that alive for them," Sierra said.
The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at 95 Park St., last about 45 minutes and end at Pope Park. Activities for children will be held afterward at the park's recreation center, including camel rides, skits and performances.
The Spanish American Merchants Association has collected about 1,500 gifts donated by community groups and businesses across the state that it will pass out to children who have registered, Sierra said. Leftover gifts will be handed out to children whose families have not registered, he said.
The event drew more than 1,000 spectators last year.
Today is also the last day for skating at the Bushnell Park ice rink. The rink will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at