Disney courting Latinos with Three Kings Day celebration

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Disney courting Latinos with Three Kings Day celebration

NEW YORK- Disneyland is marking Three Kings Day in a big way this season, another milestone in the mainstreaming of a holiday that is beloved in Latin America and other cultures around the world.

The Christian holiday - also known as Twelfth Night, or Feast of the Epiphany - takes place Jan. 6, ending the 12 days of Christmas. Many Hispanic communities in the United States celebrate Three Kings Day with parades and performances depicting the Biblical story of three kings following a star to find the baby Jesus, bringing gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.

Disneyland spokeswoman Michele Himmelberg said the theme park in Anaheim, Calif., “launched the Three Kings Day celebration last year as a test. It was a big success, particularly with the Hispanic community, and we’re expanding it this year to a larger area.’’

The park will host Three Kings Day Jan. 4-6 at the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Disneyland’s Frontierland. There will be Mexican folklorico dancing, mariachi musicians, photo ops with Disney characters and bilingual hosts offering face painting, crown making and other children’s activities. Food carts will serve sweet corn tamales, chimichangas, Mexican hot chocolate and king cake, which is a round, sweet, doughy cake called rosca de reyes (king’s ring).

“I love the fact that Disney is doing this,’’ said Evette Rios, a correspondent with ABC’s “The Chew,’’ who grew up celebrating Three Kings Day with her Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn. “It means a lot. This is the changing face of America. We are becoming more open to different holidays and traditions. I don’t have a homogenous view of what America is and I’m glad Disney doesn’t, either.’’

Rios still celebrates the holiday by attending a parade in East Harlem organized by El Museo del Barrio, a museum devoted to Latin American and Caribbean culture. The colorful parade, in its 36th year, includes costumed actors, floats, bands and camels. It’s held on a weekday - this year Jan. 4 - so schools can participate.

In Miami, three kings of basketball - Heat superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - will be grand marshals of the 43rd annual Three Kings parade in the Little Havana. The parade is scheduled for Jan. 20 along Southwest Eighth Street. AP
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