By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – The date January 6 for so many symbolizes a profound tradition-along with its authentic customs- to joyfully celebrate and keep alive their deep-rooted history and profound meanings.
Carrying the namesake, Three Kings Day, the day is precious to those in most Spanish-Speaking countries. Temporarily halted the last couple of years due to the Pandemic, the uplifting holiday, paying tribute to the Three Kings (“Three Wise Men” or “Magi”) who pursued the brilliant star, leading to Bethlehem and lain infant Jesus, whom they provided gifts to, once again returned to Beacon’s San Joachim Church for the 19th year Sunday, January 8, from 1-5pm. Sponsored by Sun River Health, the festive occasion included; the traditional La Rosca cake (containing four baby Jesus’), music by DJ Ray Moralez and Award-winning “Regional Artist” at Custodia Awards 2018, Marvin Nunez, snacks and a toy distribution. Created 30 years ago by Sun River Health, the well-attended event continues to reveal the potent need to keep this integral piece of Latin culture and tradition alive.
“The whole purpose of today is to celebrate Latin and Central American as well as Caribbean traditions,” explained Wilfredo Morel, Vice President of Immigrant Health at Sun River. “Part of our mission is health, but it also includes taking care of the needs of the whole person, which includes celebrating these types of traditions.”
One of the afternoon’s holiday rituals, the colorful La Rosca cake, was welcomed into this event for the first time. Inside the symbolic sweet bread-like pastry were embedded four baby Jesus.’ Whoever locates those figures traditionally is required to make an offering on February 2, as part of Jesus and the Three Wise Men coming to this world. Sun River provided a slight twist to those “winners’” families who will receive gifts on that symbolic date next month.
Also among those receiving gifts inside St. Joachim Church, were children attendees under age 12. Whether it was a doll, toy train, or a host of other item selections, the offerings brought smiles and unbridled joy to both the youth and their parents. An energized reenactment appearance by the colorfully clad Three Kings, along with snacks and cupcakes elicited further positive reactions to the fun-filled event.
“This is a celebration of culture, something the Healthcare Center truly supports,” said Anne Kauffman Nolon, the Executive CEO of Sun River, who traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to volunteer her time, interacting with guests, Sunday. “It’s all about cultural diversity and understanding, things that are so important.”
Kauffman’s presence at the event resonated powerful messages to Sun River members, who the priority is always to deliver comprehensive, high-quality, affordable and compassionate health care.
“Having someone like the Executive CEO here at this event today is huge,” said a smiling Morel. “It really reveals a great deal about our community focus and the meaning behind what we do.”
Also contributing to the Three Kings Day were; Bill Lewis from Toys for Tots, Putnam County Action Program and Comunilife, Inc. A host of other community partners helped make the long-standing, well- anticipated, much enjoyed, traditional celebration possible.
“This day is a tradition we celebrate in my native country of Puerto Rico,” said Romi Domoulin, Patient Navigator at Sun River and former President of Comite Migente. “It’s so very important to keep remembering the culture we were brought up in and just keep it alive any way we can.”