By GABRIELLA DRAGONE
PATERSON, NJ – Many families gathered at Paterson City Hall on Thursday to celebrate 3 Kings Day, a holiday that is celebrated mostly by Latin countries.
In the nations that celebrate the holiday Santa Claus isn’t as popular as he is in the United States, rather it is the Three Wise Men who are the bearers of gifts and leave presents in or near the shoes of small children.
3 Kings Day or El Dia de Reyes, is also known as Epiphany and marks the glorification of baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men.
Mayor Andre Sayegh and Representatives from Los Hijos y Amigos de Colombia gave away toys as well as gallons of hand sanitizer and N-95 masks due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Along with that, the Division of Health had a Mobile Unit on site for residents to get vaccinated, boosted or tested.
“Three Kings Day is very popular in Paterson,” Sayegh said. “We have a large Latino population. So today what we’re doing in honor of Three Kings Day, when the Magi saw Jesus in the manger and brought gifts, we have gifts for Paterson residents. But we are also providing everyone with masks and hand sanitizer. With 60% of our residents who happen to be Hispanic, we want to make sure they get notification that not only are we giving out gifts, but giving out vaccines.”
For some residents, 3 Kings Day is not about the presents, but God.
“My kids know that it’s not about the gifts,” Janice a mother of two said. “Today is special we need the community to know that God is good, and He’s watching over us.”
“It’s [3 Kings Day] about God,” Joseph, 6, said. “It’s not about Christmas. Three people went to give God gifts, and they were also following the star.”
The toys and masks were donated by Paterson-based business Protective Heath Gear and the hand sanitizer was donated by the Paterson Rotary Club.
The City of Paterson’s vaccination rate, according to Health Director Dr. Paul Pursuad is just a little over 99% for adults 18 and older. All three vaccines are available and the administering of boosters and vaccines will take place six days a week until 9:00 p.m.