Traditional Celebration Brings City Neighborhoods Together

Cape Verdean Parade — a Celebration of Ethnic Pride
By Curt Brown, New Bedford Standard-Times

Cape Verdean veterans march down Union Street as part of the Cape Verdean Recognition Day Parade in New Bedford on Sunday. (David W. Oliveira/Standard-Times special)

NEW BEDFORD — It was the kind of day, to quote City Councilor Brian Gomes, when everyone in this seacoast community would claim to have some Cape Verdean roots.
And who can blame them, after Sunday’s spirited 37th annual Cape Verdean Recognition Day Parade reminded everyone of the city’s rich cultural history.
Several thousand people lined the parade route from Buttonwood Park in the city’s West End to the former Morse Twist Drill site in the city’s South Central neighborhood, where the parade ended, to watch the celebration of ethnic pride.
The parade with its loud, upbeat and lively music moved the crowd with its energy and enthusiasm. And the weather — temperatures in the 70s, sunny skies and just a slight sea breeze — gave people the incentive to get outdoors and celebrate after the cloudiest June anyone can remember.
The Bisca Tournament Club’s float with Cape Verdean music playing from loudspeakers and about a dozen dancers following behind was especially popular. Many spectators along the parade route joined the dancers for a block or two.
The Bisca float contained a model of a school that parade chairman Edward J.
Rogers said was built on Cape Verde by the club’s membership.
Another crowd-pleaser was the Les Eclairs Marching Band from Quebec.
“It’s a day of celebration for the Cape Verdean community,” Gomes said. “Today, everyone is Cape Verdean.”
“It’s a great event for our community,” Councilor Bruce Duarte Jr. said.
The parade was held on the same day that Summerfest, a summer festival featuring arts, crafts, food and music in the city’s historical district, wrapped up its annual activities, and one day after the Fourth of July.
“There was tremendous energy and pride both for the Fourth of July and Cape Verdean Recognition Day,” Mayor Scott W. Lang said.
“The crowds were enthusiastic, supportive and large. It was a very, very active, positive day for the city.”
The parade was so entertaining that Ernestine Botelho, a New Bedford resident for six years, walked over to the parade chairman and personally congratulated him on a job well done.
“That was one of the best parades I’ve seen,” she later told The Standard-Times. “It was just a great time.”
Rogers was proud of this year’s parade and shared the credit with the other members of the parade committee.
“People say this is one of the best parades in the city,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day, nice weather for marching, a nice breeze.”
He said this year they presented more than 25 scholarships to students, totaling over $25,000.
He said their scholarship program has given out a almost 90 scholarships, totaling about $75,000.
Rogers said the first Cape Verdean parade was held in 1971 and was known as the Cape Verdean Census Parade. He said it was meant to encourage Cape Verdean residents in New Bedford to comply with the census.
While this year’s parade was successful, he said next year’s probably will be better.
He said Cape Verdean Recognition Day Parade falls on July 3 next year, which could be a plus for the parade, since it will be the day before the famous Fourth of July celebration in Bristol, R.I.
“We should be able to draw more bands, money permitting,” he said.
He urged people to check out the committee’s Web site,, which will contain photos of this year’s event and scholarship recipients as well as plans for next year’s parade.
Honored as this year’s grand marshals were Robert Mendes and Bernadette Souza, the executive director and assistant executive director, respectively, of the Boys & Girls Club of New Bedford.
Both were being recognized for a total of 45 years of community service.
They received citations from the city and plaques from the Cape Verdean Recognition Day Committee.
July 06, 2009
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