2005-08-04 / News

Feast of the Holy Ghost is this weekend’s highlight

By Donna K. Drago

Feast of the Holy Ghost is this weekend’s highlight

The island’s Portuguese com-munity will get together this Saturday, Aug. 6, for their annual day-long Feast of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost Society has been a fixture in Jamestown for nearly 80 years and the Holy Ghost Hall was built in 1929-30 to house social and religious activities for the Portuguese immigrants who came to Jamestown in the early part of the last century.

At the time of its building, the hall was the largest facility on the island and served as a community center for all residents.

Ed Morinho, of Azorean descent, a member of the society since 1942, said he used to go to the hall to play basketball, and that the team traveled and held games against opponents from Newport and other towns around the area.

“If there was a game on a Saturday night,” Morinho said, “it was followed by a dance” that went late into the night.

“We’d fill the hall with whist,” Morinho reminisced about the dozens of tables full of people playing the card game.

Membership in the society now stands at just over 100, Morinho said, but he remembers when it was common to see “more than 250 members show up at the meetings.”

“That was before TV,” Morinho added.

Alcina Blair said that it was her father, who came from St.George in the Azores, along with other immigrants, that built the Holy Ghost Hall.

In later years, Blair said, when her husband George was stationed here with the Navy, he joined the basketball and baseball teams at the Hall.

Monty Neronha said that his father and grandfather, also from the Azores, both contributed to building the hall, and that he was a member for many years. He left the society for several years “to raise a family,” but came back “when they decided to start up the feast again,” Neronha said.

The feast is important because “it keeps the young people in touch with their roots,” he said.

He not only goes to the feast in Jamestown, Neronha said. He goes to several Portuguese feasts around the area each year.

“Malassadas” are his favorite Portuguese food, Neronha said, adding that he is looking forward to having one this weekend.

Neronha remembered the early days of the Holy Ghost Feast. “It was so big, they put on special ferries” to accommodate the peo-ple from Newport who wanted to attend, he said.

“The procession used to go from the ferry to the hall,” Neronha added.

Join the members of the Holy Ghost Society at their annual feast, which begins at 9:30 a.m. with a solemn procession from the Hall to St. Mark Church for a Mass dedicated to the memory of deceased members of the society. After Mass, at noon, participants can go to the Hall for a traditional meal of “soupas,” a thick, hearty soup that contains beef, chourico, potatoes, and other ingredients. Everyone who shows up will get a free bowl and be entertained by the Jamestown Community Band.

At 1 p.m. there will be an auc-tion, and at 3 p.m. the Off The Curb dance troupe will perform, followed by traditional Portuguese dancing and music.

Food items available will include homemade Portuguese delicacies like malassadas and chourico and pepper sandwiches. There will also be chowder, clam-cakes, hamburgers and hot dogs for sale.

Anyone who wants to partici-pate in the procession should call Ed Morinho at 423-1784. Donations for the auctions go to Dan or Lisa Vieira at 423-2291.

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