It’s Portuguese Festa time in Point Loma
San Diego’s Portuguese-American community will gather in Point Loma this weekend (May 25-27) for the 102nd annual Festa do Espirito Santo (Feast of the Holy Spirit). The city’s oldest ethnic festival commemorates the Holy Spirit’s miraculous intercession helping Portugal’s Queen St. Isabel feed the poor during a centuries-ago famine.
Festa headquarters is the Portuguese Hall at 2818 Avenida De Portugal. Festivities start on Friday evening with an outdoor bazaar that includes Portuguese food vendors, games, folkloric dancing and performances by the Portuguese Philharmonic. Paulo da Rosa and Groovology will take the stage in the main hall for a dance beginning at 8 PM. (Admission is free; the dress code requires all to wear pants or jeans – no skirts or dresses.)
On Saturday evening, the bazaar reopens at 5:30 PM, followed by DJ dancing at 6 PM. After a 7 PM ceremony at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church (1140 Evergreen St.), a candlelight procession will head back to Portuguese Hall for open-air music and folkloric dance performances.
Sunday is the big day. It begins with a 10 AM parade from Portuguese Hall to the church. Participants include youngsters dressed as angels and saints, marching bands and young women dressed in spectacular gowns and bejeweled capes, representing Portuguese royalty. The parade, which includes many 4th and 5th-generation participants, always includes a salute to the Portuguese-American fishermen who built San Diego’s once thriving tuna industry. After a ceremonial high Mass, around noon, the parade proceeds back to the Portuguese Hall.
At the hall, volunteers serve a traditional meal of Portuguese sopas (beef braised in stock, served with potatoes, cabbage, kale, mint and broth-soaked French bread.) Admission is free but donations are appreciated. The bazaar continues through the afternoon.
The formal Queen’s ball begins at 6:30 PM Sunday in the main hall, with The Mighty Untouchables on stage. An eveningwear dress code will be enforced. Teens convene in an outside tent, where a DJ will spin discs from 6 until 10 PM. A traditional highlight of the evening is the announcement of which Portuguese-American family will host next year’s festa.