El Museo’s 46th Annual Three Kings Day Parade and Celebration

Friday, January 6, 2023
8:30 – 10:30am | Kick-Off Breakfast at El Museo
11:00am – 12:00pm | El Barrio (In-Person)
1:00pm – 2:00pm | Live Performance at El Museo

El Museo del Barrio is delighted to present the 46th Annual Three Kings Day Parade and Celebration on Friday, January 6, 2023, titled Entre Familia: Mental Health & Wellness of our Communities. Returning once again to the streets of El Barrio (East Harlem), the upcoming in-person celebration gives space and focus on the importance of mental health and wellness, in light of national political and health occurrences these past few years. Join us on this joyous day in celebration of life and culture, featuring camels (live), colorful puppets, dancing, and live music by BombaYo, Fogo Azul, Annette Aguilar & Stringbeans, Aurora & Zon del Barrio and dance group Fruto Ancestral!

Can’t make the Parade? Join us on El Museo’s Facebook for a LIVE STREAM hosted by multifaceted GRAMMY nominated storyteller, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, Miss YaYa Vargas.

El Museo del Barrio’s 46th Annual Three Kings Day Parade and Celebration is proudly supported by Ponce Bank, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).


This year’s Three Kings Poster image was created by Puerto Rican artist and writer Tanya Torres. As stated by the artist:

This year, by illustrating the Three Kings in a playful and colorful way, I offer this gift to all the children in this tough and beloved city. This is my home, my street, some moments of my life when the Three Kings were present in my heart and the in the hearts of the people whom I’ve met in the same place where the Three Kings reminded me of myself, where they left me their gifts that I now share in this image.” – Tanya Torres 


I grew up in Puerto Rico in the 70s, the daughter of two young idealists who aspired to creating a better world of justice and equality, granddaughter of two grandfathers who composed songs and rhymes, and of a grandmother who sew clothes, and of a great grandmother who made a quilt of little scraps of fabric. My families were poor and lived in the countryside of the towns of San German and Guayanilla, but my parents were lucky and smart, and both left at 16 to study in the University of Puerto Rico and then to New York, where I was born.  

Soon after we three returned to the island, where I would have gladly remain for the rest of my life. There we celebrated Los Reyes, who each year brought us 3 gifts if we left some grass and water for their camels. We placed these important items in shoe boxes, and went to sleep hopeful to wake up to our heart’s desires fulfilled. The Three Kings continued coming for 15 years, until they lost track of my brother and I upon our arrival in New York. That first January 6th was a sad day, especially because we had to go to school and forget who we had been. The longing in my heart was immense and it was so overwhelming that I had to forget all about the Three Kings for the next 12 years. 

Then one day, I was in my new old home on Lexington Avenue, where I had recently moved and where my baby arrived from being born in the hospital. I really want to say ¨where my boy as born, but it wouldn´t be accurate! In reality, I don’t remember the year exactly, and I´m no longer sure if I was actually holding my son, because when I heard music and commotion, I looked out the large picture window of my second floor apartment, and I saw camels, and sheep, children, people marching, and finally, the Three Kings. And I cried remembering a happy childhood memory. It was El Museo’s Annual Three Kings Parade marching down Lexington Avenue. 

I can’t say that I continued celebrating los Reyes because after so many years I had lost the custom, but I can say that a short time after that moment, my most artistic friends and I put together a beautiful event for children celebrating Los Reyes in Mixta Gallery in the first floor f my house, and people brought brought their children holding shoe boxes with grass inside, and we colored pictures of the Three Kings. And another time I created little Linocut greeting cards to celebrate. Unfortunately, my poor son had to go to school on January 6 for the rest of his childhood, so he only got gifts from Santa Claus, who by mandate of my parents, had not been allowed in our childhood home.

Some years later I had the honor of being a Madrina in the parade. It was fun to wear a crown and march around my neighborhood!

This year I was invited to create an image for the parade poster. The theme: Mental Health. After a pandemic, we all need to take care of our mental health. And what do we need in order to stay sane? I thought we could ask the Three Kings for some gifts. 

Self esteem, Sharing, Loving-kindness, Creativity, Community, Self-love, Courage were the words that came to mind.

And then, of course, because my slogan as an artist is ¨Ärt for Love, Peace, and Joy,¨ I added those gifts, which are the goals of all human beings for a fulfilled life. 

The Three Kings hold a mending heart. Why a heart and not a brain? Mind and heart are connected, one collecting information, the other expressing it, absorbing it, distilling the feelings that our thoughts provoke. And sometimes, as we go through life, our hearts break a little (or sometimes a lot,) and we need to take care of our minds in order to heal our hearts. The heart has a bandaid, and roots and leaves and flowers. It is no longer broken, but growing and mending at the same time, through the healing of the gifts of the Three Kings.

In recent time I have had the opportunity to work with children whose hearts and minds are experiencing what mine felt upon arrival in New York at 15 years old. They have left behind their friends, their families, their land, and many have faced terrible trials on their way to our city. How do we help them reclaim their sense of wholeness? How do we help them claim their gifts? As an artist, and as an educator, I work to create a veil of love and presence. 

Last year, I dressed 3 young men as the three kings and put bags of edible gifts in their hands to give to every student in the school. Most students didn’t recognize the kings, but it didn’t matter, they still knew they were loved.

This year, by illustrating the Three Kings in a playful and colorful way, I offer this gift to all the children in this tough and beloved city. This is my home, my street, some moments of my life when the Three Kings were present in my heart and the in the hearts of the people whom I’ve met in the same place where the Three Kings reminded me of myself, where they left me their gifts that I now share in this image. 

One more gift, a very important one: FUN. There is no healing without fun. There is no rest without fun. There is not evolution without having fun on the way to our true selves. I hope that the little feet of the kings, and the coquette camels bring a smile to your lips. Also take a look at the boy with the dinosaur, who always had to go to school on Three Kings Day!


Friday, January 6, 2023 | 11am-12pm
Throughout El Barrio

We invite you to march with us throughout El Barrio (East Harlem) as our beloved Parade returns to an in-person experience!

EL Museo’s Three Kings Day 2023 Kick-Off Breakfast
Friday, January 6, 2023 | 8:30am-10:30am
FREE at El Cafe in El Museo

At our Kick-Off Breakfast sponsors, special guests and leaders have the opportunity to mingle, learn more about our honorees and hear remarks from elected officials. Immediately after, we invite you to join the parade route that begins at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue and march with us until 115th Street and Park Avenue. 

El Museo’s Three Kings Day 2023 Celebration
Friday, January 6, 2023 | 1pm-2pm
FREE at El Teatro in El Museo

The festivities continue at El Museo! Hosted by actress, and comedian Gina Brillon, the Celebration will feature a musical performance by Milteri Tucker and Bombazo Dance Co., Aurora & Zon del Barrio, a lively parranda by Pirate Troubadours, free gallery admission and more. 

*Space is limited | Face Mask Required in all Museum spaces.








El Museo del Barrio will, once again, live stream the day-long event via Facebook. The live stream will be hosted by multifaceted GRAMMY nominated storyteller, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, Miss YaYa Vargas.




Long considered one of the original founders of the Nuyorican Movement, Papoleto addresses political, intellectual and linguistic topics in his work that remain relevant today. A New York-born Puerto Rican award-winning poet, playwright, teacher and activist, he began his career nearly 40 years ago as a poet-facilitator in public schools, working at workshop programs in California and New York. Over the years, Papoleto has performed his poetry with his musical group “Exiled Genius,” with Eugene Mingus on piano, and M’Chaka Uba on bass, a trio that combined the tradition of jazz spontaneity and precision with the natural melody of the poetic voice in poetry/jazz collaboration.




Paloma IzquierdoHernandez is the President and CEO of Urban Health Plan(UHP), a system of federallyqualified community health centers located in the three counties of New York City. Through her leadership, vision, and with a very capable team, Paloma has positioned UHP into a firstclass healthcare organization. Raised in the Bronx, Paloma has devoted her career to ensuring health equity in the Bronx community which is located in what has been identified as the poorest congressional district in the country. With fierce determination, she shepherded the expansion of UHP from a onesite facility in the South Bronx, to a network of community health centers that includes fourteen sites in the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan, including a standalone Adolescent Health and WellnessCenter and two mental health facilities; twelve school health programs; three WIC programs; a workforce development center; a healthy living food distribution program among another multiple grantfunded programs.

PRINCESS NOKIA, MC, Singer, Songwriter, Actress, and Activist

New York-born Puerto Rican artist, Princess Nokia, continues to ascend. In the past year, she released “sumptuous rush of confidence” (New York Times) “Boys Are From Mars” with Yung Baby Tate and “striking” (Vogue) “It’s Not My Fault” for her major label debut via Arista, and hit the road for her first-ever US headlining tour including festival stops at Gov Ball in NYC and Lollapalooza. Celine’s Spring/Summer ‘21 fashion show was set to her first-ever RIAA certified Gold single “I Like Him” after she collaborated with Celine’s iconic designer Hedi Slimane for the collection. She performed on the new Gossip Girl and appeared in Kacey Musgraves’ star-crossed, and featured on Ashnikko’s Platinum Tik Tok smash “Slumber Party.”

DIOR VARGAS, Mental Health Activist

Dior Vargas is a mental health activist with over ten years of experience in advocacy. She works with universities and corporations to discuss selfcare advocacy, wellness accessibility, and diversity within mental health. She is the creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, a response to the invisibility of BIPOC in the media representation of mental illness. She is also the editor of The Color of My Mind , a book based on the photo project. Dior has received numerous awards, including the White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations under the Obama Administration. Dior delivers speaking engagements across the country, and her work and insight have been covered in media outlets such as The New York Times. Dior has a BA in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College and an MPH from New York University. She was born and raised in Spanish Harlem.


MINAA B., Writer, Speaker, Mental Health Educator

Minaa B. is a writer, speaker, licensed mental health professional and founder of Minaa B. Consulting, a mental health consulting practice that helps organizations build psychological safety and become mental health inclusive. A passion for helping others, Minaa teaches people how to cultivate self-care and self-advocacy through boundaries and community-care and her work has been featured in various publications including Red Table Talk, The Today Show and more. Learn more about Minaa by visiting www.minaab.com.

DJALI BROWN-CEPEDA, Founder, Nuevayorkinos

Djali Brown-Cepeda is an Afro-Indigenous Dominican archivist and filmmaker born, bred, and based in New York City. Hailing from Dyckman, Upper Manhattan and the Soundview section of The Bronx, Djali is the Founder and Curator of Nuevayorkinos, a digital archival project documenting New York City Latino and Caribbean culture and history through family photographs and stories. She runs the project with her partner, Ricardo Castañeda. Nuevayorkinos has exhibited at New York City’s El Museo del Barrio and MoMA PS1, and California’s MACLA, and has been featured in various publications, including The New Yorker, Dazed Digital, New York Times, and Latina Magazine.

ROBERTO G. LEBRÓN, Assistant Attorney General, Office of NYS Attorney General Letitia James

Roberto G. Lebrón is the Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the New York Attorney Generals’ Harlem Regional Office, where he oversees that office’s investigations and enforcement litigation, consumer mediation and educational outreach programming. Prior to the Attorney General’s Office, Roberto was a litigation attorney with the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, where he commenced lawsuits to ensure safe housing conditions for the residents of Manhattan and the Bronx. He is a former President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and board member of the West Harlem Environmental Action, an environmental justice advocacy organization.

VALERIE PADILLA, Founder, Valerie's Women Empowerment

Valerie Padilla is an East Harlem native and founder of Valerie’s Women Empowerment, a community group of 4,300 women from around the world. She’s been influential in the community since she was 16 years old, empowering and supporting women and young ladies. Valerie has created a monthly mental health program at the El Barrio Artspace to all in need. Her movement is dedicated to ensuring that every woman and girl has the opportunity and motivation to reach their full potential and live out their dreams. She also builds self-love and self-worth, continuing to spread love and walk in her purpose.

ALEJANDRA RAMOS RIERA, Playwright, Actress, Director

Alejandra Ramos Riera is a NYC-based, Puerto Rican award winning playwright, actress and director. Winner of “The 2020 Miranda Family Voces Latinx Playwriting Competition”, and a 2021 Emmy Nominee as a Voice Over Actress for Animated Short Film “La Cucarachita Martina’s Musical Adventures”, her published work includes her book “En la azotea, 10 piezas cortas de teatro”, “Times of Fire”, among others. Alejandra is a collaborator artist of Pregones/PRTT and her latest work includes “Embrace: abrazo” at Pregones/PRTT theater, and the world premiere of “Malas mañas”. She is also a creator of the micro-theater movement in Puerto Rico.

CHARLES RICE GONZALEZ, Co-Founder, BAAD!, The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Charles Rice-González, born in Puerto Rico and reared in the Bronx, is a writer, LGBTQ activist, co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and an Assistant Professor at Hostos Community College. His novel, Chulito, received recognition from the American Library Association and the National Book Critics Circle, he co-edited From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction, and his play I Just Love Andy Gibb was published in Blacktino Queer Performance: A Critical Anthology. He’s a fellow of MacDowell, Lannan Foundation, and PEN America/Writing as Activism. He’s the board chair for the Bronx Council on the Arts and NALAC, and serves on the Macondo Writers Retreat advisory board.

SAM RIVERA, Executive Director, OnPoint NYC

Sam has over 29 years of progressive experience in social services. He currently serves as the Executive Director of OnPoint NYC, a harm reduction organization that provides services to active drug users and sex workers in Northern Manhattan and The South Bronx. He brings to this role his several decades of cutting-edge service provision experience and a commitment to social justice. He has dedicated his professional career to ameliorating the harms associated with the War on Drug Users, those impacted by the criminal justice system, racism/sexism, structural inequality, and mass incarceration and will continue to work to end systematic barriers to populations that are most vulnerable.

MELANIE SANTOS, Holistic Wellness Educator

Melanie Santos is a holistic wellness educator, practitioner, and mental health advocate. Her work is rooted in creating social change by guiding people toward intentional living and educating on the mind, body, spirit connection. Blending personal experience, intuitive wisdom, and both ancient and modern wellness technologies, Melanie’s mission is to help people remember who they are as cosmic beings living unique, nuanced human experiences, and help them learn to embrace all facets of self and collective care. In addition to sharing through her platforms, Melanie has collaborated with organizations like Facebook, Target, Healthline, Talkspace, Nike, and Squarespace, among many others.

DR. EDWIN TORRES, Family Nurse Practitioner, Montefiore Medical Center

Dr. Edwin Torres is a Family Nurse Practitioner with a Community Health Nurse practitioner degree. Currently, his practice is primarily with patients diagnosed with diabetes in the outreach program at Montefiore Medical Center. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he was on the frontline as one of the first providers to work at a monoclonal antibody clinic in the Bronx, NY. In addition, he served on various panels educating the community on the pandemic, vaccine development, vaccination efforts, and its evolvement. Edwin is a founding member of the Diversity Committee and Health Policy Committee for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.











Multicultural Connections: Three Kings Day