Monday, January 5, 2009

El Dia De Los Reyes Magos

Story and photos by Amanda May

At right: New Haven Police Lt. Luiz Casanova hands out gifts to Fair Haven K-8 students as part of their “Three Kings Day Celebration.” This was the first annual at the Grand Avenue school and was sponsored by the Latino Officer’s Society.

FAIR HAVEN – Three wise men made an appearance in a Fair Haven school Monday afternoon and drew attention from the educational staff, students, and the local media and government, including police.
But these weren’t just any wise men.
They were Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar; the three kings from the biblical story of the birth of Jesus.
At this, the first annual Three Kings Day Celebration at Fair Haven K-8 School, they were played by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo, Police Lt. Luiz Casanova and Alderman Joe Rodriguez.
As is the custom in Latino culture, the “three kings” or “tres reyes” bring presents to children the night of Jan. 5 each year. The children from the third grade at acted out the tradition of placing boxes of cut grass beneath their beds, (a gift for the camels that the three ride and the equivalent of milk and cookies for Santa) while police Officer Yesnia Ortiz narrated.
The event was sponsored by the Latino Officer’s Society of New Haven, which provided a gift for each student from kindergarten to the fourth grade at the Grand Avenue School.
After the “magical” pre-enactment of tonight’s hoped visit by the “tres reyes,” Rodriguez sat in front of the giant paper mache camel made by the school's art teachers. He gave out the presents to the eager lines of little girls and boys.
“This is the true definition of community,” Rodriguez. “We have leaders, the police, staff, educators, and community members all coming together to celebrate and share our cultures and traditions.”
“I’ve never had the pleasure of being a king for an hour,” Mayo said. “It’s a great occasion and I loved seeing the excitement on the faces of the children.”
As far as his face, it itched. “I’ve got to go take this beard off,” Mayo said with a deep laugh while exiting the stage.

Magic in the air. At right, students from kindergarten to the fourth grade participate in the “Three Kings Day Celebration” at the school’s afternoon assembly.
NOTE: Tuesday, Jan. 6 is a holiday and a day off for New Haven public school students, with classes resuming Wednesday.

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