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May 25, 2010 > San Lorenzo celebrates Holy Ghost Parade

San Lorenzo celebrates Holy Ghost Parade

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Katie Keliiaa

On Sunday, May 30, the Ashland Holy Ghost Association of San Lorenzo will be holding their 112th annual festa, or Holy Ghost Parade. Portuguese festas or Holy Ghost parades are celebrations held in honor of Queen Isabel (Saint Isabel, Elizabeth of Aragon) all across the U.S. In the Bay Area alone, this rich tradition dates back over one hundred years.

Typically, these festas are celebrated with parades, a special mass, and a coronation of the festa "queens" with feasts of sopas (soup) following afterwards. It is said that Queen Isabel of Portugal was compassionate towards her subjects during a 14th century famine, and often snuck out to feed the poor with bread hidden in her cape.

Katie Keliiaa, longtime member of the Ashland Holy Ghost Association, says, "In today's parades, young women re-enact her legacy and dress as queens in formal gowns, velvet capes and tiaras. Each association's annual coronation is honored by the presence of local queens and their families." The queens are selected based on succession; depending on how long a girl has been marching with the association, she can move up from flower girl or side maid and eventually earn her place as baby, junior, or senior queen. After Senior Queen the girls march as Past Queen and finally as St. Isabel.

On May 30, the San Lorenzo parade will march from the Ashland Holy Ghost Hall to St. John's Church at 10 a.m. Following tradition, there will be a special mass held at St. John's Church from about 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in honor of the parade where the queens from Union City, Tracy, and Hayward will be crowned. The parade will then march back to the hall.

An auction will be held after the feast. Items auctioned off are often donated from the queens' families, association members and local businesses. Sometimes this includes Portuguese baked goods, wine and spirits, sports tickets, movie passes, handmade crafts, plants etc. Also, each year the Senior Queen (and sometimes Junior and Baby queens) will have a cake made in their honor. This cake is auctioned off and all proceeds benefit the association and its future parade.

Holy Ghost Parade
Sunday, May 30
Parade begins at 10 a.m., mass at 11:30 a.m.
Ashland Holy Ghost Association
16490 Kent Avenue, San Lorenzo
(510) 589-2520

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