The Half Moon Bay and Pescadero I.D.E.S. societies celebrate the annual Holy Ghost Festival this month. The festival marks the feast of Pentecost, a Christian holiday commemorating the appearance of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. The moveable feast falls on May 28 this year, but in order not to conflict with their neighbors to the north, the Pescadero I.D.E.S. celebrated a week early.
Known colloquially as Chamarita after a traditional dance performed on the holiday, the festival includes a procession, free lunches served to the community, live auctions, and, of course, presentation of the new queens and their courts.
The occasion holds special meaning for the local Portuguese American community that hails mostly from the Azores islands. Legends report that centuries ago a famine caused by earthquakes and drought threatened the population on the islands. The people prayed to the Holy Ghost and on Pentecost Sunday a ship carrying life-saving provisions appeared.
Hearing about this holy intervention, Queen Isabel, known for her love of the poor, organized a procession and offered her crown on the Cathedral altar in Lisbon as a gesture of thanks. The local parades each year reenact this royal procession.
In Half Moon Bay the cooking starts on Thursday. On Friday evening a dance concert will fill the I.D.E.S. Hall on Main Street. An evening procession on Saturday will bring the crowns to Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church for a blessing. Afterward, the society presents the queens, their courts and new officers.
A parade from I.D.E.S. to the church begins on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. and will feature the new queens and visiting royalty and bands from other Bay Area societies. Lunch service begins at 11 a.m. with family activities outside the hall. The society will serve another free lunch at noon on Monday.
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