This post is based on a Luso-Americano Newspaper article printed on February 5, 2010
The City of Newark’s website lists the Portuguese Day Parade & Festival under Festivals & Parades in the month of June. However, at this time, no one knows for certain.
The Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID) must first hold a hearing on the Portuguese Festival, as it would occupy the commercial area in it’s jurisdiction. A few weeks ago, a spokesperson for IBID told the Luso-Americano they had neither been contacted nor had any discussion about the festival with anyone.
Bernadino Coutinho, whose foundation has organized the event for the last 30 years, said that he has been in talks with Red Bull New York whom are interested in bringing ethnic festivals like the Portugal Day Festival to the new stadium. This news comes after Coutinho announced he would discontinue organizing the festival due to the lack of support and even obstruction from City Hall.
Coutinho is convinced that Harrison’s Mayor Raymond McDonough, will give him the utmost support for the Portugal Day celebrations in the shadows of Red Bull Stadium.
The stadium is set to open this Saturday, March 20, with a friendly match-up between the Red Bulls vs Santos FC (a popular Brazilian soccer team). The first official Major League Soccer game will take place on March 27 against Chicago Fire SC.
With the support of former Mayor Sharpe James’ administration, Coutinho was able to pull off the event since 1980. He is hurt due to what he considers persistent alienation from the Booker administration as it relates to the bureaucratic steps now required to operate the event. And also what he considered obstruction, in part, by East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador.
When the Booker administration took over in July of 2006, the council supported and signed an ordinance introduced by Councilman Amador establishing new financial terms including a requirement that all festival organizers pay an initial 20% of the total projected cost of the festival’s first year, then an additional 5 percent within 12 months to help cover police and sanitation costs. Additionally, the fee would increase 10% for 3 years until a maximum of 50% of the cost.
An estimated $400,000 would go directly to City Hall which would require an initial payment of $80,000 in the first year (2007) for the festivals organizers.
The festival’s associated costs in the last three years have threatened to cancel each of the year’s celebrations but negotiations have been made in organization’s favor.
The frustrations in the previous years has led the Coutinho Fundation to entertain the possibility of moving the Portuguese Day Parade & Festival to Harrison once the Red Bull Arena is built. The festival’s program also has a soccer component.
The stadium’s inauguration is later this week and everything else depends on many circumstances.
One of them relies on the creation of a commission to celebrate the festival undergoing the financial terms that were initially imposed on the Coutinho Foundation between 2007 and 2009.
If the financial terms are changed in favor of the Foundation, Coutinho seems to remain interested in holding the celebration along Ferry Street.
Now if the festivities do indeed move to Harrison, this would be a huge loss for the Ironbound and the City of Newark. Or would it?
What is your opinion? Would you support moving the Portugal Day Parade & Festival to Harrison? Please vote and leave a comment.