The largest Three Kings Parade in the Mid West kicked off 2012 with the blessings of sunshine and above average temperatures. Nearly 500 parade goers on trolleys, double decker buses, floats, motorcycles, bicycles and on foot, escorted the Three Kings on their annual parade down Paseo Boricua to the Humboldt Park Field House. Members of LAMA (Latin American Motorcycle Association) took the form of the Three Kings as they rode on horse and wagon, tossing candy to the crowds of spectators and bringing cheer to children and nostalgic adults alike.
The Three Kings Day Parade celebrates the coming of the Three Magi to bring gifts to baby Jesus or day of the Epiphany. In Puerto Rican tradition this is the day when children receive their Christmas holiday gifts. On the eve of the 5th of January, children fill a box with grass (for the kings’ horses) and place it under their beds. In the morning of January 6, they awake to find toys and gifts. This festival is also celebrated with traditional music and songs dedicated to the Three Kings. In keeping with this tradition, the Puerto Rican community comes together to organize the first parade of the year in Chicago.
The parade made its way to the Humboldt Park Field House, where several hundred more children and families, not in the parade, were already waiting in line to receive Los Reyes Magos. As the children received their gifts, they were serenaded by a trio of musicians singing traditional aguinaldos (music and songs dedicated to the Three Kings). By 6:30 pm that evening, over a thousand children ages 0 to 12 had received a gift. The Chicago Land TOYS FOR TOTS and LAMA helped to bring in the bulk of the toy donations that were given that night. Many volunteers from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center spent days wrapping the toys. This year the first 40 children in the parade received a free bicycle from West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urbano.
With another successful event the Three Kings Winter Festival and Parade is fast becoming one of the most popular family friendly events in Chicago. The Three Kings Committee would like to thank it’s sponsors: Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward), CHICAGO LAND TOYS FOR TOTS, LAMA, COMCAST, Central Park Produce, Division Street Business Development Association, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, Chicago Park District (Humboldt Park), La Kalle 103.1/93.5, La Voz del Paseo Boricua, EXTRA Newspaper and West Town Bikes/Ciclo Urbano.
By Eduardo Arocho