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Hispanic D.C. theater goes all-out for Three Kings Day

Sunday - 1/5/2014, 10:09pm  ET

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Performers with the GALA Hispanic Theatre walk around Columbia Heights with live animals as part of a Three Kings Day celebration. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
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WASHINGTON - The Christmas season isn't quite over. Monday, Jan. 6 is known as Three Kings Day, and a local Hispanic theater took the celebration to the streets Sunday afternoon.

"This event has been our most important event," says executive director and co- founder of GALA Hispanic Theatre, Rebecca Medrano .

Medrano started the theater back in 1976 in a townhouse in Adams Morgan. Now, at 14th street NW in Columbia Heights, she says "it's the closest thing we do to a rock concert."

The event includes an hour long stage production that tells the story of the important day in Spanish culture through song and dance.

"Most Latin American countries and Spain, they don't really celebrate Christmas, it's much more important, the arrival of the kings."

Medrano says Christmas day for many is mostly about church, the gift giving doesn't happen until 12 days after.

"The Magi arrived to Bethlehem on the 6th of January and that is when the gifts were exchanged."

After the show - which is free - all the kids in the audience are given gifts, in the spirit of the day. The gifts are donated to the theater by the community.

Josh Spiser of D.C., who brought his two young kids to the show, says it gives them a chance to "celebrate this festival with the great music, great dancing, let them learn a little Spanish and learn about traditions from around the world."

"I like the show, I like the people that dance, they're amazing," says 7-year-old Alejandro Obregón.

There wasn't always a show, according to Medrano. It began as a procession through the neighborhood, complete with a donkey on loan from the National Zoo.

Keeping with the tradition of the "Posada," which dramatizes Joseph and Mary's search for a place to stay - they knocked on doors throughout the their D.C. neighborhood - entering and spending time at a McDonalds after Medrano says the Zoo forgot to pick-up their Donkey.

Even now, with two shows, Medrano keeps the procession tradition alive. This year, animals on loan from the Leesburg Animal Park, including a donkey, goat, bunnies and a Pygmy Zebu -- a cow native to India -- walked with the Three Kings down the streets of Columbia Heights on a cold Sunday afternoon.

High school student Cyndi Cruz played Mary.

"Every time we walk or every time they announce Jesus' birth I just think about when he was really born."

To learn more about the theater and other performances, visit galatheatre.org.

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