On June 10th, the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola was once again turned into an authentic Portuguese “Aldeia” or village, complete with traditional food, music and youthful folklore dancing. Over a dozen local Portuguese organizations took part in the annual event hosted by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Comptroller George Maragos, complete with the Assoc. de Antigos Marinheiros Portugueses, Mineola Fire Fighters, students from Escola Julio Dinis singing the Portuguese national anthem and Rebecca Bastos of Mineola High School singing the Star Spangled Banner.
The night’s feature was the keynote speech by Ambassador of Portugal to the United States, Dr. Nuno Brito, who visited the Mineola Portuguese Center and Village Hall earlier in the day. Dr. Brito was accompanied by Consul-General of New Jersey Dra. Maria Paiva (named Portugal’s new Ambassador to Poland) and Member of Parliament Maria João Ávila. Honorary event chairman Senator Jack Martins presented the Ambassador with a Legislative Resolution from Albany passed earlier in the week, which declared June 10th as “Portugal Day in New York State”. Speakers also included Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves who married into the Portuguese culture, Deputy Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina Di Giorgio, Village of Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss and all the members of the village board.
During the intermission, the folklore group Ranchos Juventude & Sonhos de Portugal of the Mineola Portuguese Center, led by President Tony da Silva, filled the Legislative Chambers with colorful outfits and traditional music. The night’s second-half proceeded with the honoring of 20 local business persons and community leaders by the Presidents of all the local organizations, headlined by Village of Mineola Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira (Man of the Year) and philanthropist Rosa Leal (Woman of the Year). Other honorees included Gabriel Marques (Young Man of the Year); Jaimie Silva & Stefanie Ribeiro (Young Women of the Year); Leroy Barroca, Manuel Carvalho, Roy Carvalho, Manuel Gomes, Paula Rego, John Malheiro, Al Oliveira and Jack Silva (Business Persons of the Year); Joao & Maria Caetano, Rev. Tomaz Gomide, Jack Maia, Antonio Martins and Oracio Vaz (Lifetime Achievement Award); and Henrique Mano (Friend of the Nassau County Portuguese Award).
Chairman and organizer of the event, Gabriel Marques (who was also honored as 2013 Youngman of the Year) said the event could not have unfolded any better and that residents “applauded” the work of the County Executive and Comptroller to help recognize the Portuguese community in Nassau. The event included participation from almost a dozen local Portuguese organizations, including the Mineola Portuguese Center, Portuguese Heritage Society, Alheirense Cultural Center, Ranchos Juventude e Sonhos de Portugal, Long Island Portuguese Lions Club, Daughters of Portugal, Escola Julio Dinis, Mineola Portuguese Soccer Club, Luso-American Riders Group and Portuguese Continental Union – Lodge 51.
At the closing of the celebration, the Dome of the County’s Executive and Legislative building was lit in Portugal’s nation colors of green and red in recognition of the contributions of the Portuguese community in Nassau which has existed since the 1890’s, as long as the County itself.