So apparently, Epiphany, aka the Day of the Three Kings, or the Day of the Three Magi, or El Dia de Los Reyes, or El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, is quite a big deal in the Spanish-speaking world. In some communities it's even bigger than Christmas, because Dia de Los Reyes is the day kids get their presents. In any case, while I was researching something else earlier this year I discovered that Huntington Park, which is a straight shot down Slauson from our house, has a big-deal street festival every year on Epiphany that includes a living nativity scene and live camels, plus special feast foods, and I was like, we are so going to that! And we did...
Dia de Los Tres Reyes: NOTABLE QUOTE
"Oh, he's so cute! He looks just like a little white baby!"
Dia de Los Tres Reyes: WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS
Three blocks of Pacific Blvd. were blocked off for booths, bouncy houses and a petting zoo! I'm pretty sure the donkey pictured below was there to be featured in the live nativity scene, but the crowds were so dense that we only got a distant glimpse of that and the camels. (Apparently if I'd known better, we could have gone to see the camels in their holding pen before they're trotted out for the actual process of delivering the Magi to the manger.)
I can't believe I've never seen a tortoise at a petting zoo before. It's kinda brilliant. It doesn't run away and the kids can't do any damage!
This was a fascinating pile of sleeping puppies and Vietnamese pot-bellied piglets, but then the kiddo was distracted and thrilled by someone's balloon animal hanging overhead.
Dia de Los Tres Reyes: SNACKS, or BABY JESUS IS A CHOKING HAZARD
Jackson tried using a fork on his taquitos until I convinced him it was finger food. Meanwhile, I had a delicious bacon-wrapped hot dog. Seriously, the first person to wrap bacon around a hot dog should be identified and given a genius grant. And while I am disappointed to report that Paco's Tacos did not provide us with excellent customer service (grumble), the food was just fine.
Now, let's talk about the other food (not pictured), which is half the reason (besides the camels) that I wanted to go to this thing:
- Rosco de Reyes: Rosco de reyes is the traditional celebratory bread-cake of Dia de Los Tres Reyes. I was largely unimpressed, although it was perfectly adequate. That said, I was finishing off our piece on the way home in the car (come on, sure, it was dry, but like I was going to toss a piece of cake?) when I bit into something hard. It was only then that I remembered the tradition of baking a trinket into the bread; he or she who finds it is said to be blessed for the coming year. So yay me, but the tiny albino baby Jesus is a choking hazard and I probably shouldn't have let Jackson nosh on this bread. Oops.
- Champurrado: OK, champurrado is pretty good. Champurado is pretty much a hot-chocolate milkshake, but the thickener is masa, aka the cornmeal used in tamales, so it's kinda like drinking chocolate sludge with a tamale aftertaste. That sounds weird, but champurrado works quite well as a drink, and I'll look forward to encountering it again.
- Hot Cheetos with Cheese: America, let's talk about obesity for a moment. I think I've found your problem: There is a street food called Hot Cheetos with Cheese, which is a constructed from a ripped -open bag of Hot Cheetos filled with nacho cheese sauce and handed over to the customer for eating with a fork. You can apparently use Doritos as a substitute for Hot Cheetos, if you so desire, or add jalapeno peppers if that's your thing. The teenagers on the street and my champurrado vendor swore it's good, but I mentally filed it in the same folder of terrifying foods as deep-fried Coca-Cola syrup and ran in the other direction.
Dia de Los Tres Reyes: FIRE ENGINE!
The Huntington Park P.D. and the County Fire Department came out to partake of the festivities, so Jackson got to high-five a real fireman and sit in a real fire engine. There was also a police motorcycle, police car and armored SWAT van, but the lines for those were too long so we stuck to fire engine.
They were giving away free bilingual children's books at one booth, so naturally we took one, because that's how I roll. Below, Jackson checks out the pictures.
Last but not least, Jackson liked the lights decorating the street and helicopters that swooped overhead now and again. The big downside of the night was the incredibly deafening banda music on every corner, but with a little advance planning next year we should be able to avoid going deaf and get to see the camels up close, whoo!