ELIZABETH, NJ – The Portuguese community came out 5,000 strong on Sunday to watch the 37th Annual Portugal Day Parade, the largest in Elizabeth, according to Jennifer Costas, the parade’s mistress of ceremonies.
Remarked Carla Rodrigues, president of the Elizabeth Portuguese Day Committee, “As we become third and fourth generation in the United States, it is important to connect with our roots, where our grandparents came from, and can show our Portuguese and American communities our culture.”
The parade was filled with the sights and sounds of Portugal, from dancers in native dress, vintage cars, and new corvettes, and lots of floats. Sixty-five organizations participated. “Each organization designed their own float, and we did them all last night,” explained Paloma Rodrigues, who worked on one with the children’s garden club with the theme, Abril 25 Day Of Freedom. “I think this is important because we have a beautiful heritage that we like to share with the community. We are a very tight community.”
One of the parade’s highlights was a group of Cante Alentejano singers from Portugal. Cante Alentejano, traditional choral music from southern Portugal, has been declared by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The group, dressed in black and wearing large hats of the same color, walked up Elizabeth Avenue, singing and swaying. They performed before the reviewing stand before taking their seats.
The parade concluded with a celebration at the Portuguese Instructive Social Club on Grove Street.