Williamsburg and East Williamsburg residents celebrated the 22nd annual Three Kings Day Parade on Sunday.
It started at the intersection of Meeker Avenue and Graham Avenue and went down Graham Ave, Brooklyn’s own Avenue of Puerto Rico. Parade goers danced salsa on the corners, shouted celebratory “wepas,” waved a variety of flags including those from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico– three prominent Latino cultures in North Brooklyn.
Elena Rodriguez, a lifelong Brooklyn resident says that she’s been attending the parade for over a decade and does her best to come out every year, regardless of how cold it is.
“This is like a tradition for me,” she said, holding a Puerto Rican flag. “I have to come support because it’s part of my culture, and it’s just fun to get outside and listen to all the music.”
A float nearby echoed her sentiment, a sign attached to the side read “keeping our traditions alive.”
“We might as well keep the Christmas season going and keep having fun as long as we can together,” she said.
El Dia de los Reyes, which is Three Kings Day, is celebrated in many Latino and Catholic enclaves in and out of Latin America. It marks the end of the Christmas celebrations in many Latino cultures and is the day that gifts were traditionally given to friends and family members. And though it isn’t officially recognized with time off in the United States, it’s still observed with local festivals and parades, like the one in Brooklyn.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez marched in the parade alongside former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, who is currently a candidate for Public Advocate. They waved to the crowd and called out “feliz ano nuevo” or happy new year.
What followed was an array of musical exhibitions from local schools, mariachi bands, floats from local businesses, decorated Schwinn bicycles, and the three wise men ending the parade with donkeys and camels.
Nelson Rojas, a lifelong Brooklynite who says he’s called the “Captain of the neighborhood,” felt that the parade showed how much things have changed over the years, especially since he felt that this year’s festivities were smaller.
“Because of gentrification and everything is ‘up and coming’… it’s very downsizing,” he said about the parade’s size. “It’s becoming extinct, eventually that’s what’s going to happen.”
He whore a nautical hat played classic salsa songs on the corner of Moore Street and Graham. He was near several Nuyorican staples like San German Records and the Moore Street Market, known to longtime locals as La Marqueta. Rojas and a friend played the güira and maracas, encouraging others to dance.
“I love being here so much, it shows that we still get together.”
Photos by Angely Mercado