Various community organizations came together to host a gift giveaway celebrating Three Kings Day on Thursday, Jan. 6, at Corona Plaza for the second year in a row.
Last year, the Three Kings Day event gave out around 150 gifts. This year, nearly 450 toys, art kits, N-95 masks and other gifts were handed out to families from the area. In addition, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz donated about 250 toys to the event to help families in her district celebrate the occasion.
“Tres Reyes is a tradition in Latino communities, and even during a pandemic, we have to find opportunities where we can celebrate traditions in a loving yet healthy way,” Cruz said.
Sam Massol, the program director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, said he hopes this gift giveaway becomes an annual event but wants to make sure that the programs they host meet the community’s needs.
“If you were to ask any Latino, this is something very integrated to our cultural background,” Massol said. “We are programming events like this and we want to continue these sorts of events because this is a way to connect the community together. It’s about bringing in the merchants, street vendors and all the different aspects of Corona at the plaza to stimulate the local economy there.”
Organizations like QEDC, Queens Museum, the Street Vendor Project and other organizations honored the holiday with this event, while also hoping to slowly revamp Corona Plaza.
Massol said that Corona Plaza has a lot of intersectional challenges, from homelessness, rodents to crime — which the pandemic has only exacerbated. But Massol has been working to combat those issues and make the plaza a safe, cultural hub.
“This is about bringing the community together in a positive way to effect positive changes we need to see in the plaza,” Massol said. “We have the whole gamut of urban challenges right now. But this is something that the community is very much interested in changing and we’re interested in harnessing all this wonderful energy that the community has to make those changes.”
Cruz said that the vision for Corona Plaza has not yet been carried out, but thinks that with more events like the Three Kings Day celebration, it could be delivered.
“I’m hopeful that in the future we’ll see the kind of leadership in the community that will really help us carry through a Corona Plaza that is for the people, that has cultural events, fun events, educational events and see that to fruition,” Cruz said.