King cake is passed out during a Clark County celebration for Three Kings Day at the Clark Coun ...

Inaugural ‘Dia de Reyes Magos’ event exceeds expectations, county officials say

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A “Rosca de Reyes” is a rounded bread topped with candied fruits and sugar. It’s lightly sweetened and not too fluffy, but also not dull or tough to the bite.

A mega rosca was the centerpiece of “Día de Reyes Magos” festivities and community resource fair at the Clark County Government Center.

There, families accompanied the cake with hot cocoa while young children exchanged small plastic figurines baked into the mammoth rosca for free gifts. The figurines are representative of baby Jesus Christ.

“It’s something very special for the kids,” said Angel Martinez in Spanish.

Martinez attended the free event with his wife and five of their six children.

The celebration “well exceeded our expectations for an event at the government center,” Clark County Manager Kevin Schiller told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Schiller pointed out a line that snaked around the block, and said there were people waiting for doors to open hours before the 10 a.m. start time.

“This is the inaugural event,” added Schiller, “so next year, I think we’ll make it bigger.”

The Jan. 6 biblical celebration is up for interpretation, but for many Latin American families, it marks the moment three ritzy, wise men — or Magi known as Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar — arrived on camel to meet the son of God.

They had “followed a star from the East to Bethlehem in search of a newborn king,” according to the National Gallery of Art. “There they found Mary and the baby Jesus and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

The gallery’s website added: “As gentiles who acknowledged Christ’s divinity, the Magi claim an essential role in the Epiphany — the manifestation of God to the world.”

Martinez said his family typically celebrates the occasion at home, eating rosca and tamales, drinking “champurrado,” a flour-based milk beverage infused with cinnamon and brown sugar cane.

In Mexican lore, the person who finds the single figurine baked into a family rosca is tasked with organizing a family feast on Feb. 2, which is “Dia de la Candelaria,” also known as Candlemas Day.

This was the first time the Martinez family waited to open Christmas gifts on Saturday morning. He and his wife immigrated from Mexico nearly 20 years ago.

Guadalupe Sandoval’s family has kept that tradition alive since she and her husband immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico, 16 years ago.

On Friday night, her children wrote letters to the Magi and put them in a small shoe placed underneath their Christmas tree.

The Sandoval family woke up early Saturday, opened their gifts and ate rosca before heading out to the county’s event.

“It’s beautiful to keep the culture and traditions alive,” Guadalupe Sandoval said in Spanish.

She said the event — organized by the county and Las Vegas’ Mexican consulate — was very well put together.

Sandoval and Martinez said their families learned about it through social media.

Schiller said preparations took about two months, and that the event was one of several the county organized at the government center for the holiday season.

Commissioners William McCurdy II and Marilyn Kirkpatrick were also on hand for Saturday’s festivities, the latter collecting the figurines before allowing children to walk up to a table and collect a toy.

McCurdy said the event was special.

“It’s very very important that we not (just) honor the wise men, but also honor the richness and diversity of our community,” he told the Review-Journal. “You get a chance to celebrate the cultural heritage, but also bring forth some resources that are gonna help our families thrive.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.



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