NEW BEDFORD - Despite the inclement weather, people remained in good spirits during the celebration of the Day of Portugal in the Whaling City last weekend.
The festivities kicked off on June 9 with a flag raising ceremony in front of City Hall with elected officials, community leaders and Day of Portugal Committee members.
Mayor Scott W. Lang said he was extremely proud to welcome the Day of Portugal celebration to the city.
"It's a tremendous event for our city," said Mayor Lang. "It ties us to our Portuguese community, it exhibits our culture, our history, our great artisans, food, traditions, and the religious fabric that makes up the community."
Among the crowd was a prominent youth presence. Students from the two Portuguese official schools in the city were on hand to sing the Portuguese national anthem or perform traditional folkloric dances and the New Bedford High School Marching Band were expected to lead a procession down William Street to the Whaling Museum.
"Thank you for coming out in these climacteric conditions," said Consul Fonseca, before stressing the importance of the celebration as way to "strengthen the Portuguese identity, traditions, culture and beautiful language."
A severe thunderstorm, however, forced the ceremony to move inside of the City Hall and officials to improvise the scheduled program.
Down the street, at the Whaling Museum the PortAm Players presented the play "A History Brief of the Portuguese," written by Allan Moniz of Falmouth, Mass.
The short play narrated by the great 16th century poet Luís de Camões used rhyme and plenty of imagination to revisit curious Portuguese historic episodes and moments of glory that served as foundation for Portuguese nationality and history.
"This play allows for children, and also adults, to better understand important episodes in the History of Portugal, through a fun and comic way," said Consul Fonseca.
The play was followed by a small reception to the sound of fado, Portugal's national song.
On Friday, the celebration moved to Acushnet Avenue in the city's North End, with the opening of the Traditional Portuguese Fair. Part of the avenue was closed off to traffic and converted into an arraial, with tasquinhas (food booths), street vendors and crafts.
"It's been a stressful year, but it's been a great year," said Day of Portugal committee president Angela Amaral. "We came together to accomplish a great task to bring the festivities to you."
In spite the unfavorable weather all weekend, thousands roamed the avenue in celebration. Many took the opportunity to savor grilled sardines, bifanas, malassadas and other Portuguese delicacies and take in the colorful sights and sounds of 10 folkloric groups and continuous entertainment on two stages.
This year, however, there were no artisans from the Azores to demonstrate their work live, as Portugal's current financial hardship prevented municipalities to sponsor their trips as usual. Instead, the Day of Portugal committee recruited a few local residents who displayed their tablecloths, embroidered items, miniature wooden models and other crafts. A group of students from Bristol Community College also showcased their artwork based on a recent trip to the Azores.
"Local artisans stepped up to the plate and we have plenty of great local talent," said Amaral. "My committee worked hard and very long hours and without them this would not be possible. I would like to thank the public, without your support this would not be possible either."
Next year, the fair will celebrate its 15th edition.
"We hope to make it even bigger," said Amaral.
O Jornal, aqui.