By Gregg McQueen
Photos by Cristóbal Vivar
It’s a life line.
The annual revelry includes rows of eager school children processing beside live camels, large-scale puppets, and men and women in royal garb.
Hosted by El Museo del Barrio, the parade marks the birth of Christ and is highlighted by youth marching bands, musicians and dancers.
“It’s a life parade — it celebrates the birth of Christ, the birth of a child,” explained Jesús “Papoleto” Meléndez. “Because of all the diverse communities here in New York, it just enriches everything.”
The East Harlem poet and activist was carted around on a bicycle as the parade’s King Emeritus, has participated in the parade since 1995.
Meléndez said the event resonates with people because it signifies hope and renewal.
Now in its 43rd year, the parade has become an iconic occasion in the neighborhood.
Read more: The Magic of the Magi | Manhattan Times