Monday, May 9, 2016

Stratford Festa

When I mentioned that May is going to be an exciting, daunting and busy month, this past week was the one I was most worried about.
It was jam packed and so many things overlapped with multiple moving parts.
But we survived. 
Quite successfully, I might add. 
 AND we had fun. 
 Now it is time to dissect the week and share it so I won't forget
You are the recipients of that dissection. 
(I just looked at this is my laminated master packing list for Festas...the 'gun' at the bottom of the picture is a GLUE gun...just to be clear)
 Since we have three more Festas this month, I will begin at the end of the week.
 I fear after a couple parades, the pictures will all begin to look the same to me and I want to keep them straight.
SPF and her attendants rose Sunday morning to a breakfast of cinnamon rolls and juice. 
 After LPP  crowned them all, we were off for the hour drive to Stratford. 
The car was filled with giggles and singing.
For an hour.
It is truly a great sound.
Typically, these Festa Parades begin at the town's Portuguese Hall and ends at the Catholic Church.  Mass is celebrated and the parade makes its was back to the hall where lunch (usually Sopas) is served, for free, to anyone in the community. 
 It is one of the many things that I am proud of.
The giving back.
The serving of others.
 The honoring of one's heritage and traditions.
Anyway, I digress.
For those of you who don't know, Stratford is a teeny, tiny town that we have always driven past and never given much thought to.
Lots of these little, old farming communities have or have had large Portuguese (mainly Azorean) populations. 
 Yesterday's Festa was Stratford's 100th Anniversary.
100 years!
Queens representing other towns come to participate in the celebration.
Many of the people who cook for and organize the Festa live in neighboring towns and come back because of past family ties or simply the tradition. 
Talk about a moving parts.
There are a lot.
 There is also quite a bit of hurry up and wait that occurs in the beginning.
But the waiting gives us time to admire other queen's capes as well as just visiting.
I even got to see my sister and brother in law who drove the 7 (or 5) minutes from their home to see their niece.

The girls enjoyed visiting with a former teacher from their school.
 While none of them were in her class, they love her and the feeling is reciprocated.

Once the parade makes it's way down the street to the church, the flag bearers and queens line the entry and watch as the new Stratford Queen and her entourage are blessed by the priest and enter the church. 

                                                                             In come cases, we will attend Mass.
Yesterday, was standing room, overflowing out the door full, so the girls set up camp and continued their giggles, chatting and posing for silly photos. 
 They easily include a little sister in their antics. 
 Miss P. is a trooper and even carries the sign when she comes to the parades.
 All 4 girls devoured the termocos that Chris brought for them.
I think they decided big brothers are kind of nice.

 As Mass ended, the parade lines up in formation again and makes its way back to the hall, although this time, there is a detour around the center town square.

A cart filled with Massa Sovada preceded our girls and was passed out to the few people watching from their homes or walking down the street. 

 Or to hungry daughters who in turn stuck a bit in each girl's open mouth. 
Nourishment is always key to marching in a parade in formal gowns carrying statues and pulling capes.

Once we made it back to the hall, a wardrobe change occurred before lunch. 
Each Festa Committee prides itself on their Sopa recipe and each town has a slightly different take on them. 
It will be interesting to hear which ones these girls prefer when we are all done.
I must say that each time I spend time with these young ladies, I am filled with pride. 
They are respectful, well mannered and most of all kind.
They are walking the line of having fun and honoring their roles with perfection.

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