HARLEM—Luis DeLeón loves celebrating Three Kings Day, which marks the day the three wise men arrived with gifts for the baby Jesus. But with the up and down weather, he decided against celebrating at the annual East Harlem parade.
Instead, he arrived at the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Program on East 109th Street and was picked to portray one of the Three Kings.
"This is a big day," said DeLeón, 83. "I feel happy anytime I can celebrate with the community."
Dressed in regal colors, the Three Kings delivered gifts as seniors stood and clapped and danced.
"The community celebrates with the parade but we want our seniors to be a part of it too," said Jose Medina, 67, who also portrayed one of the kings.
Bill Dionne, executive director of the center, said its important to keep traditions alive. The center received its own gift this year when a man showed up one day and said he had food that he wanted to donate to the seniors.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, pulled up with a truckload of juice, beans and other dry goods.
"The man said he saw people leaving the center and that they always looked happy," said Dionne. "He said: 'I'm doing this to thank you for helping the community."
The food will be greatly appreciated, said Dionne.
"We serve breakfast and lunch but its only 2/3 of what they need. Whenever we can give away food people pile in because that's what they need the most," he said.
Husband and wife, Tony and Aida Martinez, said the celebration would be the highlight of their week.
"It's so beautiful that people are participating," said Tony Martinez, a retired maintenance worker who has lived in East Harlem for decades. "I like to see everyone happy."