Monday, June 11, 2007

Portuguese-Americans celebrate heritage

This immigrant community started in the 1800s and still keeps their culture alive while also being completely American. This is what should always happen in this country. DP

By Scott MacKay, Journal Staff Writer PROVIDENCE — That Portuguese-Americans, of all Rhode Island’s many immigrant groups, have one of the strongest bonds with their traditions, heritage and language was underscored again yesterday, as several thousand thronged the streets of Providence for a colorful parade commemorating the 30th anniversary celebration of a Day of Portugal in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island has been a destination for Portuguese immigrants since the 17th century. While Portuguese Rhode Islanders are proud of their contributions to the state and of assimilation as Americans, the links to the old country are still strong for many of the roughly 100,000 state citizens who listed Portuguese as their ethnicity in the 2000 U.S. Census.

“This is a community that has always been very clear about the value of assimilation,” said Marie Fraley, of West Warwick, whose grandparents came from Portugal in the 1920s. “But it also a community that has many people who immigrated as recently as the 1970s, and so the immigrant experience is still very fresh for them.”

Yesterday, the Portuguese respect for tradition and love of celebration merged in a parade that for the first time in many years began with a ceremony on the State House steps, wound through downtown streets and ended at the Bank of America plaza, where the sweet smell of grilled chourico and peppers merged with the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers. Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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