Portuguese fest is from Old World

Royalty will be celebrated in Cayucos this weekend at the annual Portuguese Celebration. The Cayucos Council Beira Mar No. 106, which organizes the event, was established Oct. 8, 1912, and produced its first celebration in July 1925.

The event celebrates family and honors Queen Isabel of Portugal (1271-1336), known for her dedication to the poor and support of peacemaking.

Pioneering Portuguese Americans continued their homeland traditions with community festivals, recalling when the queen sold her jewelry during drought and depression to feed the poor. Legend had it she would annually place her crown upon the head of a young village girl to maintain her own humility.

In 1625, Queen Isabel was canonized St. Elizabeth. Catholic church legend recalls her Miracle of the Roses. Hiding bread and coins in her apron for the poor, the king asked what was in her apron. She said roses. Because it was January, he insisted she show him. When all he saw were roses, she was allowed to continue her efforts.

“Since there were other celebrations in the area, Mr. Jose A. Pereira (also known as Perry) thought Cayucos should have a local festa. His daughter Annie Perry was the first queen,” said Marlene Souza, queen in 1958 and keeper of the events’ historical records.

Open to the public, Saturday evening’s events start at 6 p.m. at the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Lions Hall. Portuguese folk dancing follows recitation of the rosary. Linguica sandwiches will be sold for $5.

On Sunday morning, past courts from all over California convene at 8. The Grand March on Ocean Avenue to St. Joseph’s Church starts at 10:30 a.m. Past queens and their courts from all over California are formally dressed.

A coronation takes place during the 11 a.m. Mass. After they parade back to the vets hall, they enjoy a barbecue followed by an auction at 2 p.m.

Traditionally, a family steps forward to volunteer to act as president to organize the annual event. The father becomes president and his daughter becomes queen. Lacking a volunteer family, a celebration committee forms and queen candidates are selected by random drawing.

This year’s queen, Marina Perry, will represent 100 years of her family’s involvement. Her great-great-grandfather was Jose A. Pereira. Her grandfather, John A Perry Sr., was council president and grand marshal of the parade for many years.

Marina will be a third- generation queen, as her grandmother, aunt and cousins have all reigned.

Marina is the daughter of John Perry Jr. and Tina Perry of Paso Robles. Family and friends attending her are Lindsay Luiz, Lynne Latronica, Tori Wilson, Amanda Daniels, Samantha Daniels and Lucy Velarde.

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.