Portuguese Community Park will be the site of a cleanup day presented by the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society and the city of Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The event will begin with a greeting at 9 a.m., followed by volunteer labor, including weed and tree sucker removal and shrubbery trimming.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will provide all the tools and equipment, and the work day will conclude at 11:30 a.m. with a picnic lunch prepared by the historical society.
Portuguese music and children’s activities will also be included in the day’s schedule.
In regard to this joint effort by PHCS and the Parks and Recreation Department, Gui Sequeira, the society’s secretary, said, “(The city has) been very congenial with us and we’ve always worked well together.”
Sequeira added that she had been inspired to have a cleanup day at the park after hearing about some vandalism that had occurred at the park.
“Some vandalism was done and (the PHCS agreed that) it would be a nice thing to do to (hold a cleanup day) and meet some of the neighbors, and kind of bring them into the fact that the park is their park, but we’re keeping an eye on it,” Sequeira said.
In speaking more specifically about vandalism at the park, Sequeira mentioned a vandalized flagpole.
“The flagpole was vandalized,” Sequeira said. “(The pole) had been donated by a family at the original construction of the park. In fact, the (family) name is on the plaque (at the park). We might replace (the pole) in the future, but they are not cheap. They are probably $1,000 or more.”
Portuguese Community Park, which is located at 7350 Durfee Way, at Portugal Way, made its debut as the Pocket area’s newest park in 1988.
A city resolution to name the then-undeveloped park site Portuguese Community Park was adopted on Nov. 18, 1986. The resolution – No. 86-871 – was signed by Mayor Anne Rudin.
The local Portuguese community had selected the present Portuguese Community Park site from two proposed locations, with the other being the site which now operates as Renfree Park at 54 Cache River Circle.
Another city document, with background information about the property, includes the following words: “This 3.8-acre site, consisting of two parcels adjacent to waterways and connected by a foot bridge, was purchased in 1979 and 1980. This park site is located within the Pocket Canal Parkway and was approved by council as a part of the Pocket Community Plan. The parkway consists of the phased installation of a bikeway and landscaping along several open canals in the Pocket area.
“In addition, the Portuguese community has raised more than $11,000 to date towards (sic) the purchase of an ornamental fountain, drinking fountain, benches and a flag pole.
“Once complete, this park site will include elements typically found in a park in Portugal: gazebo, benches, walks and landscaping, which features Portuguese vegetation. In addition, the park master plan includes a soccer field and children’s play area.
“The Portuguese Community Park site was chosen by the Portuguese community to symbolize the close link between the Portuguese people and the sea. The community has further contributed to the authenticity of this Portuguese park through valuable input during the planning stages, and by securing the specially made ceramic tiles for the gazebo from the national government of Portugal.”
In regard to the aforementioned public bikeway – known as the Pocket Canal Bikeway – the laying of pavement for its west side was completed in 1994. But work on the east side of the bikeway was delayed due to insufficient funding at that time.
Nov. 5, 1988 proved to be a very special day, as the then-recently completed park was dedicated in honor of the Portuguese farming families who lived and worked in the Riverside-Pocket area.
The first Portuguese immigrants to establish homes in the area arrived during the 1850s.
Present at the 1988 event, which included a dinner, were representatives from the Portuguese consul from San Francisco, women in traditional Portuguese clothing and a band from Tracy.
Ground was broken for the construction of the park by the then-90-year-old Mary L. (Silva) Dutra, who was the daughter of Faial, Azores Islands, Portugal-born Joe Francisco “Milhomens” Silva, who settled in the Pocket area in 1893.
On Sept. 19, 1999, the park was rededicated, and at the same time, PHCS was celebrating its 20th anniversary.
That event included an invocation and blessing by Father Eduino Silveira, pastor of the St. Elizabeth Portuguese National Church at 1817 12th St., performances of the American Portuguese national anthems by the Sacramento Youth Band and a flag raising of those nation’s flags by Boy Scout Troop 259.
During the gathering, which was coordinated by PHCS members, Marilia Wiget (president), Dolores Greenslate (director) and Herb Perry (director), District 7 Councilman Robbie Waters presented a city resolution commemorating PHCS’ 20th anniversary.
Another event was held at the park on Saturday, Nov. 13, 1999.
That event was the burying of a time capsule, which is scheduled to be unearthed, added to and reburied in 2019.
Included in the capsule, which was created by Dolores Greenslate’s husband, Norman Greenslate, are copies of PHCS newsletters, a 1908 survey plat map of the Pocket area, 1988 and 1999 park dedication brochures, and an aerial photograph of the area prior to its redevelopment.
Also included in the capsule is the following statement by Wiget:
“This park was built with the intention of honoring those early Portuguese immigrants who settled this fertile region; forever memorializing their struggles and contributions to the development of the area, the education of their children (and the children of neighbors sharing the land), and the perpetuation of their values and culture.
“The Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society considers the development of this park as a major accomplishment. It was from this original endeavor – the recognition of the Portuguese pioneer settlers of the Riverside-Pocket area – that the society grew into the present organization.
“May those who follow us, who open this capsule, be those who have kept and continue to keep the tradition and history of the Portuguese people on their lips and in their hearts.”
The park was the scene of another PHCS event on Oct. 3, 2004 – the 25th anniversary of that organization.
The gathering included picnic foods, an appearance by Councilman Robbie Waters, and regional dances and instrumentals from the Ribatejo area of mainland Portugal performed by the folkloric dance group, Alma Ribatejana.
Portuguese Community Park presently includes the following amenities: a bantam soccer field, a bike trail, a gazebo, a plaza, a large stone climbing sculpture in the shape of a fish like those that appeared on historic maps, and a pirate ship-themed playground structure.
With this more than a quarter-century-old park approaching its cleanup day, Sequeira said, “What we’re most interested in is connecting with the neighborhood. Come and visit and reconnect with your past and keep the Portuguese presence alive in the Pocket area and meet the neighbors that use the park every day. And also volunteer and have some fun.”
For additional information about this event, contact Ralph Nevis at 916-421-7161.