The Portuguese community of Artesia, in Los Angeles County, has begun a party to celebrate the popular saints, with sardines, balls and processions.

The Festa dos Santos Populares, which had been cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, will take place until Sunday at the Artesia Divino Espírito Santo (D.E.S.) hall, bringing together a Portuguese community that is mainly from the Azores.

“The highlight is the traditional dinner with sardines, potatoes and pork tenderloin”, said Isadora Anselmo, a member of the board of Artesia D.E.S, in an interview with Lusa.

The official said that this year there will not be marches, as happened in previous years, but there will be a procession with the images of Santo António and São João.

This Feast brings together the celebrations of the two saints, which previously took place at different times and earlier in the summer, and will also include a concert by the philharmonic bands of Artesia D.E.S., Chino D.E.S., secondary schools in Cerritos and Gahr and preparatory school in Terzlaff.

“Usually on Saturdays a lot of people gather and the sardine dinner is made in the street”, she said.

The celebration is “important” to call the community back after the pandemic, but Isadora Anselmo said that not as many participants are expected as in the Festa do Espírito Santo, which took place in July.

“People are afraid, because there were again many cases [of covid] here in our area,” explained the community leader.

The D.E.S. Portuguese Hall de Artesia was founded by Azorean emigrants in 1927 and the community in this area, which is about 40 kilometres from downtown Los Angeles, is made up of a few thousand Portuguese-Americans, many of whom are first-generation.