After the coronavirus pandemic put a damper on things in 2020, the Gustine Pentecost Society welcomed the community and guests from throughout the region to a celebration of holy tradition this weekend with the return of its festa. 

The annual event, which features dancing, food, a procession and more, was limited to only a mass and rosary last year, but came back with a bang Thursday through Sunday as COVID restrictions relaxed. The only thing missing from this year’s festa were the traditional bullfights, but that didn’t stop people from as far as the Bay Area and Sacramento regions from coming out to celebrate their heritage and religion. 

“Last year was an odd year and everything got shut down. This year, everyone’s coming back to support the community, the Portuguese events, the cultural events, the religious events, and this encapsulates all of that. I’m so excited to be a part of it,” said Gustine Chief of Police Ruben Chavez, who walked in the procession alongside GPS Festa Presidents Elizabeth and Michael Alves.

The Alves’ daughters, Madeline and Audrey Alves, were named the 2020-2021 GPS senior and junior queens, respectively. Madeline was accompanied by sidemaids Aubrey Silveira, daughter of Steve and Christina Silveira, and Olivia Lucas, daughter of Chris and Jennifer Lucas. Audrey’s sidemaids were Carley Fontes, daughter of Carlos and Stephanie Fontes, and Evelyn Lucas, daughter of Chris and Jennifer Lucas.

Michael Alves said the community of Gustine is tight knit and worked together to make the return of the festa a reality this year, comparing those who made it happen to worker elves who know how to get the job done.

Watching his daughters take part in Sunday’s procession as junior and senior queens, complete in their beautiful outfits paying homage to the Holy Spirit, was an honor, he added.

“It’s an honor to be here and have the opportunity to do this and have my family involved,” Michael Alves said.

While the annual GPS festa celebrates all that is near and dear to the Portuguese residents of Gustine, Michael Alves invited community members of all cultures to come experience it for themselves next year.

“Come and see it; check it out for what it is,” he said. “We like to get together and have a good time, eat and drink. It’s all about the Holy Spirit and unity.”