The Three Kings Day parade in North Brooklyn continued its yearly tradition in spite of the global pandemic, gifting children with toys and holiday cheer outside of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull.
Three Kings Day is a religious observance that is widely celebrated, especially in Brooklyn along Graham Avenue with a lavish parade that brings extravagant outfits, live music, and exotic animals, such as camels. However, like the majority of public events since the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus, this beloved event was canceled. Jessica Arocho, director of Community Affairs at Woodhull Hospital, helped transform the over two-decade-old parade into a smaller function that she says encapsulates the spirit of the holiday.
An array of tables were assembled where families could stop by in an orderly fashion to receive food items and children were presented with age-appropriate toys. Attendees were even offered the chance to pose alongside the Three Kings themselves. Kids, many of whom were in strollers, reached out gleefully as they were passed dolls, art sets, and other goodies.
“Something that was going to be small turned out to be something so beautiful, so the actual purpose of Three Kings Day–which is considered the gift of giving—really came to fruition. The community has come together, and this is a prime example of what community looks like,” Arocho said.
Hundreds of excited families waited on an extensive line in order to accept gifts that were donated by Woodhull Hospital, the FDNY and NYPD. Officers also joined the celebration, ensuring social distancing measures were maintained and handed out masks. The President of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch also partook in the fun. For the NYPD leader, this event was the culmination of strenuous efforts to both keep people safe while also providing a positive event for the public to enjoy.
“What we are facing with COVID is that so many people lost their livelihood, they lost their job—they don’t have the money. If a child wakes up hoping to get a toy, we want to make sure that child gets that toy so they can continue believing, not only in the Three Kings, but also in the community,” Lynch said.