This January Cary holiday parade celebrates Latino culture and helps families in need

If Christmas and Hanukkah are over, what winter holidays remain? For many members of the Latino community, Three Kings Day on Jan. 6 is a reason to keep celebrating.

It’s for that reason Roberto Perez, the president of the Diamante Arts and Culture Center, and a team of volunteers continue to organize an annual Three Kings Day Parade in Cary. The parade, now in its 14th year, has its roots in Biblical history.

“In the American culture, we give toys on the 25th (of December). But in the Latino culture, for centuries we give the toys on the 6th of January,” Perez said.

This year, the Diamante Center, which works to promote and preserve Latino culture, celebrated Three Kings Day on Saturday – a day early – to ensure the logistics of hosting a parade would go smoothly.

Perez said Satuday’s parade is the largest one the group has hosted. He estimates a couple thousand people attended the festivities.

The parade was full of vibrant dancers and dresses as more than 100 people participated, representing traditions from traditions from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and at least four other Latino nations, as well as Puerto Rico.

While people enjoyed the parade performances, there was still more to celebrate.

The parade is the second of three parts of the Diamante Center’s Star of Hope Campaign. In early December, there was a tree lighting ceremony.

And after Saturday’s parade, the Estrella Gift Giving event took place for about 150 families, each of which received at least one bike for their children as well as a large bag of toys and food.

“Wake County Human Services sends us a list of families ... that they consider to be in need,” Perez said. “And what we do is we call them, we ask them how many kids you have and their ages. We give (the families) toys and food.”

The Diamante Center assists these families with the help of sponsors and through donations. Food Lion is one of the major sponsors; Toys for Tots also provides a substantial number of presents, Perez said.

Sprint sponsored this event for the first time this year.

“[Sprint] put up boxes in their establishments around most of this community to receive toys and food. They’ve been a great deal of help,” Perez said.

Perez and other volunteers hope events like these will bring the people of different cultures closer together.