“I’m always asked how people can get to know the Latino community in Madison – and I firmly say each time, ‘Just come to Centro and gather with us!” says Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller. “Three Kings was a great opportunity to do just that.”

According to Centro, a large number of community members, 700 – who were overwhelmingly Latino – came out for the annual ‘El Dia de Reyes'(Three Kings Day) on Saturday, Jan. 12 at Centro Hispano.

“I am amazed by how much we can do for the children and families in our community by all coming together – from board, to staff, to volunteers, to individuals, businesses, our agency partners, and organizations,” Nina Gehan, Centro Hispano’s Director of Development, tells Madison365. “Together we were able to welcome more the 700 children and families this year… and each child, ages 0-16, left with a gift. Tres Reyes wouldn’t be possible without everyone coming together to make it happen year after year!”

Gehan added that the 700 number is an increase from 500 attendees in 2018 and 300 in 2017.

El Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day) is the day that we remember how the wise men brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus. As part of the annual festivities, Centro presented gifts to the children, which will include bikes from Wheels for Winners, and had face painting stations while providing traditional pastries and hot chocolate to families.

There were more than 500 gifts donated for the children attending the event. Centro Hispano volunteers wrapped every one of them over the last month or more.

“I am always so touched by the families that come to our event – this year more than ever. I love seeing the familiar faces, that got so much out of the morning. And it was also great to see community partners present,” Menendez Coller tells Madison365.

It was a packed house at Centro for ‘El Dia de Reyes’ (Three Kings Day) on Jan. 12.

“Events at Centro are so important because they foster community – among our families and among our staff,” she adds. “I am so incredibly grateful for the Centro staff, board, and volunteers who put so much into this event.”

This year, the Tres Reyes – Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar – were played by community members Al Felice, Kingsley Gobourne and Chase Tarrier. Centro invested in its own costumes made by another community member, Leticia Torres Zaldivar, who is the owner of Tortillas Los Angeles and a regular vendor at Centro Hispano’s Mercadito de Centro.

The whole event was presented via Facebook live by Maritza Quechol, event intern at Centro and [Re]Generacion youth alumni, who was instrumental in organizing the event.

Normally held on a late Friday afternoon, this year’s event move to Saturday was intentional, Gehan says.

“We wanted to make the event more accessible to families especially since many arrive early and we don’t want them to have to stand outside in the dark cold January weather at the end of what may be a long week,” she says. “I think it was successful; this year, families really lingered and enjoyed the event and we had 200 more people than last year.

Once again, Wheels for Winners donated 35 bicycles and their time to fit kids with bikes. Guests at the event enjoyed delicious rosca de reyes – traditional sweet bread eaten to celebrate Epiphany – courtesy of Hubbard Avenue Diner. They also enjoyed hot chocolate from Willy Street Co-op and coffee from Just Coffee.