BUHL - Jim Whitaker and Maxine Price don't attend Buhl's Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. But that didn't stop them from enjoying the parade that traveled Sunday morning in front of their home, across the street from the church.
The procession began the day's activities as part of the Portuguese Holy Spirit Festival, or Festa, put on by the Irmandade do Divino Espirito Santo, or Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Spirit.
The parade included festival queens and their courts, toddlers and preschoolers dressed as angels and costumed in old-world Portuguese attire, members of the Knights of Columbus, men carrying heavy statues, and a band playing traditional marching hymns that brought up the rear.
The cacophony offered a short glimpse into Portuguese culture and the yearly festival.
"It's just beautiful and it makes for a more beautiful community," Price said. "We love it. We've only seen the parade twice but it's wonderful."
Whitaker said he was impressed the local Portuguese community welcomes others to enjoy the Festa with them.
"It's good to see young people bettering themselves, treating fellow men the way they want to be treated," Whitaker said.
Bob and Barbara Bynum, of Merced, Calif., had numerous grandchildren in the parade and watched the procession with pride.
"We come up every year," Bob Bynum said.
Barbara Bynum recalled being queen herself decades ago, and celebrating Festa with her own children.
"It's a wonderful tradition," she said.
For Hector Nevarez, of Jerome, Festa is sacred - "It's in honor of the Holy Spirit. There is no greater honor," he said.
His daughter, Destiny Navarez, 5, was named Wendell's junior queen last year. She said being a queen was fun, except for towing the heavy cape, weighed down with thousands of intricately stitched beading.
"I want the cape off," she said.
She'll only have to wear it once more, Hector Navarez said, at next weekend's Festa at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Wendell.
"She'll pass along the crown to this year's queen and be done, but it was exciting to have her crowned and a real honor. We felt blessed and Destiny enjoyed getting dressed up," he said.
After the procession completed its loop around the church, festival-goers went to Mass and then enjoyed sopas - a rich soup made with beef, onions, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, tomato, wine and cabbage poured over French bread and mint sprigs, with the beef served alongside.
The festival wrapped up with an auction and bazaar, dinner, Grand March and a dance.
This was the 27th Festa, pronounced "Feshta," celebrated in Buhl.
The event is traced back to Portugal's Queen Isabel, who in 1354 promised to God that if peace were restored to her land, broken by war between her husband, Portugal's king, and son, the heir to the throne, she would hold a festival in honor of the Holy Spirit.
For more information about next weekend's Festa in Wendell call 536-2345.
Blair Koch may be reached at email@example.com or 316-2607.
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