By Stephen Stirling
City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Astoria) and state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Corona) joined community leaders and the three kings themselves Sunday afternoon in dishing out more than 3,000 toys to Queens children in celebration of Three Kings Day. Thousands of children lined the streets prior to the event, hoping to get a gift from one of the three kings. The toy giveaway was part of a daylong event celebrating the holiday at Elmcor on 108th Street and Northern Boulevard, and featured an array of activities and performances for the thousands of children who attended. In addition to receiving gifts attendees could pet goats and Shetland ponies at a petting zoo, watch one of several music and dance performances on a stage provided by the Parks Department or indulge in a free helping of cotton candy.Three Kings Day, also known as D’a de los Reyes, is the largest holiday celebration throughout Latin America, commemorating the Biblical story of the three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child. Three Kings Day is also a variation of the Epiphany.”Three Kings Day is a celebration of our culture, both in Latin America and within the diverse communities of our city. It is also the culmination of the holiday season” Monserrate said.Peralta echoed Monserrate's sentiments and said it is important to stress more than the material element of the holiday. “We're here today not only to give gifts to our children but to teach our kids about their heritage, their culture,” Peralta said.Brian Benstod of Paragon Honda, who gave $5,000 to support the event, said it is important to foster a positive sense of community in Queens. “Helping the families and helping the community at the same time is really special to us,” he said. Monserrate also honored the four teenagers who saved a newborn baby from a Dumpster in Corona last month, announcing that he would donate $1,000 to a scholarship fund in their honor. Christopher Moncado, 15, his brother Brian, 13, Gabriel Mercedes, 16, and Luis Cordero, 19, were walking home on Dec. 16 when they heard crying coming from a Dumpster on Lamont Avenue. They looked in, saw the child and immediately called 911. Paramedics rushed to the scene and were able to save the baby, named Christina, from the freezing cold. Benstod immediately matched Monserrate's scholarshipoffer, leading to a cheer from those in attendance. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.