Three Kings bring gifts for Cleveland youth
By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent
City of Cleveland’s Community Relations Board presented Fiesta de Reyes in honor of the Epiphany, a Christian holiday commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, on Jan 6, 2012. Also known as Three Kings Day, the celebration renewed a sense of wonder in 360 children attending the festivities at Hispanic UMADAOP’s Youth Center on 3115 Scranton Rd.
Lucy Torres, Hispanic Liaison to Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson welcomed the families and said it was an honor to present the third annual event with help from sponsors, community organizations and volunteers and bring the joy to the children of Cleveland. “The kids were really anxious and excited to see the Three Kings,” she said.
Nearly 400 gifts donated by Toys for Tots, Esperanza, Inc., Brian Cummins office and other nonprofits were distributed to the children by the Three Kings. Toys included dolls, racing cars, giant sized teddy bears and gift certificates. Julia De Burgos Cultural Center dance troupes entertained, while Sheriboom, the clown blew some fun into the mix with shaped balloons.
Radical Elected Disciples 4 Christ Ministries Pastors Nate and Brisy Ortiz helped organized the event; “We want to give back to the community and let them know we are here as they need us,” said Brisy Ortiz. The church has been a member of the community for three years.
Ortiz said celebrating the holiday together is an important aspect of keeping traditions alive in the United States and brings families and communities together.
Olga Gueits, teacher at Lincoln West High School agreed; “This is the most important holiday celebrated in Latin American and most of the world, during Christmas season,” she said. Gueits shared the story of the Three Kings, the traditions celebrated in unique ways through the Latin countries. Gueits said the celebrations last for more than eight days, and children are bestowed with presents.
She praised Torres for her energy and efforts in continually presenting cultural opportunities through the city and engaging Latinos.
Fiol Velez-Romero, Prevention Coordinator at the Hispanic UMADOP said the organization was delighted to host the festivities and give youth an opportunity to enjoy themselves in a safe environment. She said the youth programming through UMADOP is a great resource for the community to seek mentor, participate in sports, games, and learn about prevention programs such as anti-bullying, drugs and raising self esteem while participating in afterschool programs.
Torres said, although Mayor Jackson was unable to attend the festivities, presenting youth activities are an important mission in his administration. She encourages everyone’s participation, “ Don’t miss this event next year!”