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Rain doesn't dampen spirits
Herald News Staff, Herald News Staff August 23, 2002
Above, Horacio Cabral replaces one of the light bulbs that make the symbol of the Great Feast of the Holy Ghost of New England sparkle, as the feast got under way Thursday night.
FALL RIVER -- Although the Great New England Holy Ghost Feast was opened under rainy skies Thursday night, the spirits of organizers and those attending were far from dampened.
"It was looking a little better a few hours ago," an anxious-looking Manny Costa, president of the annual event at Kennedy Park, said of the weather.

"We need the rain too," he conceded, but added, "The problem with the rain, it scares the people away."

Costa was inside the event staff's trailer and the event was just about to begin with the lighting of the white lights framing the huge Holy Ghost crown.

Despite the light rain, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The music was playing and many patrons were feasting on Portuguese food and talking with friends and family members. The Portuguese foods being enjoyed included malassadas, cacoila, chourico and linguica.

"Everything is prepared," Costa noted. "If it doesn't rain, we'll probably get a pretty good showing."

"We call this night the young people's night," he said. "We have bands playing that are all from the young generations."

Performers included Henda Records' best-known entertainers.

The event's "Youth Night" lived up to its billing, despite the sprinkles, as many of the city's teen population descended upon the park to savor the live performances of various recording artists.

"It's not so bad," 16-year-old Maria Rodrigues said of the weather. "I'm listening to great music and eating great food with my friends."

Many patrons took cover from the sprinkles under the several huge tents there as they listened to the mainstream Portuguese music heard on the airwaves today and enjoyed Portuguese cuisine.

It was the 16th year of the unique festival and the musicians were thrilled to have the opportunity to play.

"There's so much to enjoy," said Joao Mello of Fall River. "This is a great Portuguese feast to end the summer. I always have a good time."

Participants of "Youth Night" also made the rounds, browsing through the feast's Artisan Fair, featuring everything from Azorean pottery to Portuguese stickers, key chains, T-shirts, cooking ware, toys, hats, flags, mugs, drinking glasses, plaques and custom license plates.

Feast continues

More than 300,000 people are expected to participate in the festivities to run through Sunday, with a closing banquet at White's of Westport on Monday at 7 p.m.

Participants and bands come from as far away as the Azores, Bermuda, Canada and California.

The feast will continue today at 5 p.m. with the blessing and distribution of food portions among needy families and charitable organizations. Auxiliary Bishop Dom Tomas da Silva Nunes of Lisbon, Portugal, will be present.

A bit more Portuguese flair was added to this year's festivities with an exhibits pavilion, featuring a photo exhibit comparing Ponta Delgada's past and present. Originally commissioned by the Azores' capital city, the photo exhibit is expected to be the featured attraction at the pavilion.

At 5:30 p.m. today, the pavilion, sponsored by the city halls of Ponta Delgada, Vila Franca do Campo and Angra do Heroismo, will be opened. In addition to photo exhibits, the pavilion will feature samples of economic activities and business groups, and other activities of those regions of Portugal.

An auction is set for 6 p.m., followed by a concert by Orquestra Ligeira of Ponta Delgada, Azores. From 8 to 9:30 p.m., there will be the traditional Holy Ghost Folias, and the comedy duo "Tia Maria do Nordeste" of Sao Miguel, Azores.

From 9:30 to 11 p.m., there will be a concert by philharmonic bands Harmonia Furnense and Sociedade Filarmonica Estrela do Norte, both of Sao Miguel.

Costa noted that the Great New England Holy Ghost Feast is a nonprofit organization run strictly by volunteers.

"Whatever we make goes to expenses," he explained, "and any profit, we give to organizations like the Red Cross, St. Anne's Hospital and the church." Also, 40 to 50 turkeys are given to the needy at Thanksgiving.

"We've been trying to make a trust fund," he said.

©The Herald News 2002

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