More than 300 area children, their families and friends celebrated Three Kings Day in Eastern's Sports Center on Jan. 6. United States Senator Richard Blumenthal; Donald Williams, President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate; Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill; State Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham) and Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge joined Eastern President Elsa Núñez to greet the guests. The event, hosted by Eastern and organized for the ninth year by Windham's Colectivo Mestizal, celebrates the Feast of the Three Kings, a day in Latin American cultures when children receive their Christmas gifts.
Núñez greeted the crowd, saying she was pleased and honored to host Three Kings Day. She said she wanted the audience to always know that Eastern was a part of the community, and she hoped the young people would come to study at the University. Blumenthal concurred, calling Eastern a great university. He said the greatest gifts anyone can give someone are love and caring. Blumenthal presented Colectivo Mestizal a special certificate of recognition for its commitment to the Latino community.
State Rep. Susan Johnson thanked Nunez for hosting the celebration year in and out and said, "We really feel we have a home when we come to Eastern. Today's celebration is a celebration of hope for the future." Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge issued a proclamation naming Jan. 6 as Three Kings Day in Windham. Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, called the event "wonderful for our community. I am very happy to be a part of this celebration."
Merrill presented event organizer and Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commissioner Juan Perez with a Connecticut Blue Book, an invaluable listing of state resources for community organizations and institutions. Donald Williams, President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, thanked "everyone in Windham, including all the volunteers who made this wonderful day possible."
Geissler Gymnasium came alive when Arnaldo Rivera and Friends, along with Joe Diaz strumming the Puerto Rican quatro, got the audience in a groove with the song "Burrito Sababero," which means "Donkey, Donkey," and "Saludo Saludo," which means "Hello! Hello!" President Núñez answered the call with a smooth Puerto Rican salsa that soon formed into a huge circle of people, including parents, children, Mayor Eldridge, Jaime Gomez, dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies, and Connecticut Latino Affairs Commissioner Lourdes Montalvo.
Finally, to the absolute delight of the children, the Three Kings entered on stilt walkers and handed out gifts to more than 200 children.
The Three Kings Day is also supported by the Town of Windham and the town's Department of Recreation and Department of Human Services.