By Mike Moyle
It was a Sunday morning in June,1886, and the village of Sausalito just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate had never seen anything like it. At 11 a.m., little girls wearing white dresses and bedecked in roses and carrying a glistening silver crown were led by bearers of Portuguese and American flags. They marched to the Catholic Church, where the crown would be placed on an altar. There a priest celebrated Mass in Portuguese. The girls and the crown they carried represented their beloved Portuguese Queen Isabel and her attendants, and the procession was the first recorded Festa do Espírito Santo (Festival of the Holy Ghost) held in Sausalito. When Mass ended, the congregation returned to António Lourenço’s store on Caledonia Street for a traditional feast of “carne e sopas” (meat and soup) and festivities, bonfires, and fireworks. The festivities continued for a full week.
The Holy Ghost celebration has been a Sausalito tradition ever since. Just two years after the first Festa in Sausalito, the IDESST was established and soon thereafter the original Portuguese Hall had its grand opening on Filbert Street in Sausalito.