The P-A Club celebrates midsummer on Martha’s Vineyard

From left, Kathy Gowdy, Jenny Pye, Tricia Bergeron, and Nicole Morey lead the Holy Ghost Assoc. contingent, backed up by Mike Dalles and Brian Hall. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

From the steamboat wharf to the Portuguese-American Club on Vineyard Ave., the Feast of the Holy Ghost made itself known throughout Oak Bluffs over the weekend.

Starting at 5 pm on Saturday, revelers gathered at the club for food, company, dancing, an auction, and games for kids of all ages.

On Sunday, the annual parade stepped off from the Steamship Authority at 11:30 am. Bands, dancers, uniformed public safety personnel, convertibles, floats, fire engines, happy children, and proud grown-ups made up the parade.

After a ceremonial stop at the cemetery to honor fallen veterans, the procession flowed downhill to the club, where the fun from the night before would restart and carry on until late afternoon. But first there was the traditional bowl of sopas, the soup that symbolizes St. Isabella’s commitment to feeding the poor, as the story goes, some 800 years ago in Portugal.

On the Vineyard, the feast has been celebrated since the 1920s by Portuguese immigrants, mostly from the Azores. The parade goes back nearly as long. Similar celebrations are held across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Brazil, Cape Verde, and, of course, inthe Azores.