President and Prime Minister of Portugal Visit Providence for WaterFire and RI Day of Portugal Celebration
Sunday, June 10th, 2018 was certainly a momentous day in Providence, it was the final day of PVDFest and the second of two days of annual celebration of Portuguese heritage and history that comprises Rhode Island Day of Portugal. This day was the 41st RI Day of Portugal celebration and there was even a WaterFire lighting planned for the day’s special guests. We were honored and excited to have Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Secretary of State Jose Luis Cordeiro, and President of the Azores Vasco Cordeiro, along with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza as part of the celebration.
Orlando Mateus, 2018 President of Rhode Island Day of Portugal had this to say about the history that led to this historic day, “the 2018 presidential visit to Rhode Island is not something of chance, this is a plan that has been in place for many decades. Past RI Day of Portugal presidents have set the foundation to what we do today. The works of our first President Joe Lima, to Rogerio Medina who brought the RI Day of Portugal Festival back to downtown Providence, Al Nunes, Leonel Teixeira and Marie Fraley’s leadership in fostering relationships with community businesses and making WaterFire a part of RI Day of Portugal celebrations. We did not win the Presidential visit lottery, we simply have been laying the groundwork and now being recognized for decades of planning and hard work. Providence is a jewel, and Portuguese community is a precious commodity, and together we [provided] the best Presidential Day of Portugal Festival anywhere!”
The “Day of Portugal” is a holiday celebrated every year on June 10th in every corner of the Portuguese-speaking world. Officially known as “Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas” (Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities), June 10th commemorates the death of the revered Portuguese poet, Luís Vaz de Camões in 1580. Camões is best known for his epic poem, Os Lusíadas, which is a tribute to the golden age of Portugal’s maritime exploration and discoveries.
Thank you to the entire community of Rhode Island and beyond who traveled to Providence to celebrate with us.
Photographs by Jen Bonin.