On both Thursday and Friday, the public has a chance to sample the Latin American way to welcome those three kings, who bear gifts for the baby Jesus.
The Feast of the Three Kings (or Fiesta de Reyes) marks the culmination of the Christmas season — and the traditional time in many parts of Spain and Latin America when children receive their gifts.
Both local events are free and open to the public, and they will be in both English and Spanish.
-- On Thursday, a celebration focused on kids will be from 5 to 7 p.m. in a former tool rental building at 2222 W. Washington Ave., South Bend. (To get there, head north on Olive Street, pass Western Avenue and the railroad tracks, and turn right on Washington; it’s the first building on the right.)
Three people in king costumes will present gifts to almost 200 kids who’ve already been preselected through local organizations.
But there will be candy canes and stuffed animals for other kids ages 12 and younger who show up, said Lt. Christopher Voros, who oversees Hispanic outreach for the South Bend Police Department.
And there will be hot chocolate and pastries for everyone, plus games for the children, he said.
This event is sponsored by the police department, radio station Sabor Latino, the Hispanic Parent Teacher Organization and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
-- On Friday, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center will host a Three Kings fest from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The event will begin in the hospital chapel just inside the main entrance on Douglas Road, east of Main Street in Mishawaka.
Saint Joseph President and CEO Al Gutierrez will introduce the event. Then, the Rev. Al Ezenwata of the hospital and the Rev. Kevin Bauman of Our Lady of Hungary Church will say opening prayers and explain the tradition.
Three people in king costumes will lead the group to the nativity scene and present gifts to the baby Jesus.
Local musicians will lead the singing of Christmas carols.
The group will then go to the Education Center for treats like horchata (sweetened rice water) and tres leches cake. Maritza Robles, director of bilingual education for South Bend schools, will share and explain the custom of Rosca de Reyes (sweet bread).
Staff writer Joseph Dits: