By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – The official holiday season might have come to a close; however, it was very much alive at Poughkeepsie’s Family Partnership Center Saturday morning.
Here, the Three Kings Day, “Christmas in Our Town” gathering was being celebrated by a large crowd of people throughout the Hudson Valley. Technically falling on January 6, the popular, traditional, Spanish-speaking country holiday pays tribute to the Three Kings (Meichior, Gaspar and Balthazar) who were pursuing a shining star that led them to Bethlehem and the baby Jesus. Bringing gifts, these “Three Wise Men,” showed their respect for the “newborn king.”
Locally, here for the past 25 years in Peekskill, 20 in Beacon and 10 in Poughkeepsie, Hudson River Healthcare has been paying tribute to Three Kings Day through a host of venues, including traditional music (Mariachi and drumming) and dance (folklore) performances as well as a variety of activities (face painting and crown decorating) including a toy gift distribution to every child and pre-teen.
“Today is a day to continue to celebrate this tradition of Latin America and share it with a broader, diverse community we now live in,” explained Vilma Velez, Director of the Health Promoter Program at Hudson River Healthcare. “Also, this is a way of connecting the arts with the health care agencies; it’s really all about building community.”
That unity could be spotted throughout the Family Partnership Building, as a large crowd turned out on a rainy Saturday morning, joyfully gathering together to celebrate not only this festive, winter holiday, but their surrounding neighbors and community here in Poughkeepsie and throughout the Hudson Valley. Some of the many agencies participating in the event included; Path Stone, Hudson River Housing, Poughkeepsie Public Library, MVP Healthcare, as well as Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley. Each was distributing critical information while interacting with the community.
“We are here today serving the community and giving some reproductive information,” said Antonio Hughes of Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley. “By looking through it or talking with us, people can learn how to prevent STIs as well as pregnancies.”
Also making his way out to this event was Rob Rolison, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor. Smiling while socializing with the community, Rolison sees this special day, along with the Family Partnership Center space, as integral to his City on multiple levels.
“These events held here at the Family Partnership Center bring so many people from the community out,” said Rolison. “This event today is a very important one, as it allows people to see one another, especially on a dreary Saturday, allowing them to see what goes on in this very important building in the City of Poughkeepsie.”
Patrick Griffing of Highland, who works at the Partnership locale, knows very well about the hidden treasures it possesses. He could be found there Saturday with his daughter enjoying The Three Kings Day.
“I wanted to check this event out here today, as I helped out with its setup,” said Griffing, as he assisted his daughter with some crown coloring. “My daughter really loves it-the coloring, the bands, drummer and just being around other kids and having fun.”
Griffing’s daughter was not alone in her appreciation for and enjoyment of the morning’s diverse offerings.
“Overall, the event was very successful; we had a great turnout, and that’s due to our community,” said Yvette Ramirez, Community Outreach Worker for Hudson River Healthcare Inc. “We always try to serve our community as best as we can.”