More Than 40 Toys Provided At Three Kings Block Party Celebration
by James Coulter
Santa may have delivered his presents on Dec. 26, but 12 days later, the Three Kings arrived to deliver their own. More than 40 gifts were given to local children during the Three Kings Block Party Celebration last Saturday in Downtown Winter Haven.
Hosted by the Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Polk County, the event offered a festive evening for the local Hispanic and non-Hispanic community alike to celebrate Epiphany, the day when the Wise Men visited Baby Jesus. The highlight of the evening were the three Wise Men arriving to help distribute more than 40 gifts to 40 children and their families.
The event also showcased various vendors of businesses and organizations in the local community. Other activities included an adult hula hoop contest, food trucks, and music performed by a DJ from a local Hispanic radio station.
This was the first year that the Three Kings Block Party Celebration was hosted in Downtown Winter Haven. The City of Winter Haven had invited the event to be hosted in Downtown Central Park as a test for other potential Hispanic events, explained Ana Riviera, President of the Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“We had a great reception,” she said. “I wanted to show the city a Hispanic festival and we had a shot to do that and I wanted to show them what we could do…I want to thank the city for believing in us and allowing us to bring this event to downtown, especially with all of the analytics of the Hispanic community.”
Ana Riviera started the festival when she first started with the Chamber. As Epiphany fell on her birthday, it was a way for her to celebrate her heritage and traditions with the local community, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic. The Chamber will also be hosting other events in the future, including the Women’s International Summit and Job Fair in March, and the Inagural Winter Haven Hispanic Festival in October.
The festival also offered local businesses, both old and new, an opportunity to share their wares with potential customers and network with other business owners. Iris Perez, a member of the Chamber, attended to help spread the word for her client, Kairos Nutrition, which plans on opening their new location in Lake Wales on Jan. 28.
“I wanted to come out and see the other businesses, [to] meet them and let them know about the culture,” she said. “I loved meeting the different people, I love it, I love meeting people and having them network with other vendors. Just letting people know about what we do.”
Dariana Cedeno started her business, Me And Mom, during the start of the pandemic. She and her mother made handcrafted jewelry as a hobby and shared their creations on-line. They received so much positive feedback that they started selling the items they made.
Cedeno attended the event to showcase her merchandise and network with other business owners. She especially enjoyed being able to celebrate the holiday season and engage with the traditions of her local community.
“Tonight, we were here for the holiday,” she said. “It has been a lot different than expected. We have a lot of support from the local community.”