2025 Festa Queen & King

Queen Ava Marie Byrne - 2025

Festa Queen 2025

"May God bless us all with a year filled with love, peace and prosperity. Voa, this is for you."

It is an absolute honor to represent our Portuguese community as the 115th Queen of the Festa do Espirito Santo in 2025. When my family’s name was picked out of a hat to host Festa, I cried tears of joy, thanking the Lord for the tremendous honor I was about to take on. That same night I realized I needed to find my driving values of being given this role, especially when revisiting the story of Queen St Isabel. 

Queen St Isabel was known best for her pure compassion and virtue, and dedicated her life to helping those in her community. I grew up in the Portuguese community constantly surrounded by its people emitting this trait of selflessness, and I would love to do my best to embody this while this incredible journey unfolds. 

My grandmother, Yvonne Domingos and grandfather Manuel Domingos and his mother worked endless hours in the kitchen for over 30 years, and my late Voa Yvonne was the head of the cake booth for 25 years. Both were very involved in our community, being UPSES Board of Directors and my Avô Manuel even built an Azorean crown for the use in the Capela so that it was never without a crown. I know both of them are looking down on our family, being endlessly proud of my mother, Darlene Byrne and the tremendous honor our family has decided to take on. So even though there’s never been royalty in my family, they sure did put in the work to be in this position today. I want to dedicate our Festa to those who put in all the hard work and dedication into the community so that we can have fun and pass on this tradition each and every year.

Being a part of the Portuguese community has shaped me as a person in so many ways. When I was younger and it was Festa time, I was overjoyed to put on a poofy dress and get my hair done to celebrate with my family and friends. But growing up with Festa has taught me so much more than dressing fancy, it’s brought the Lord into my life in many different ways, and a sense of community that’s so special to know I am a part of. I know that the coming year will bring me endlessly closer to my family, community, and Catholic faith. 

I understand the great responsibilities of being Festa Queen and I am beyond honored to be given the opportunity to take on this role. I am endlessly grateful to all those helping my family to make this Festa 2025 full of heritage, fun and tradition.

May God bless us all with a year filled with love, peace and prosperity. Voa, this is for you.

Ava Marie Byrne

King Philip Fernando Mesquita - 2025

Festa 2025 King

"I know my Avó Maria Inez and all our other family members will be so proud to see the next generations following in their footsteps."

It is such a privilege and honor to be representing our Portuguese community as the 115th Festa do Espirito Santo King. I am very excited and grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity. Being born and raised in our Portuguese community is something that I have always been proud of since I was a little boy. I have enjoyed learning about where I come from, hearing past stories and the long history behind our traditions which have created our Portuguese community.

As I get older, each event at the Portuguese Hall means more and more to me and becomes that much more special. I am so proud of my Portuguese heritage and am honored to be carrying on our devotion to the Holy Spirit as this year’s Festa King.

I have always loved everything about growing up Portuguese. My mother, aunts, grandparents and great-grandparents spoke to me in Portuguese since I was born and I appreciate being able to understand the language today. Being raised within a Portuguese family, with such meaningful roots, heritage, and traditions, it’s very important to me.

My family has taught me over the years the importance of our heritage and culture, as well as the meaning behind many of our traditions.The Festa do Espirito Santo has always been my favorite tradition of them all.

I have been in the Festa parade even before I could walk, as Infant of Prague, and it seems I have been in pretty much every group since, including the Fisherman group and a lot of various courts over the years. My favorite memories of the Festa as a young boy are coming to the hall on Friday and Saturday nights, eating fresh malasadas with sumols to drink, running around with my friends and taking goldfish home in plastic bags.

My favorite things about the Festa in recent years are seeing the flags get put up signifying it’s almost Festa time, visiting with family and friends, enjoying the delicious bifanas and sopas (still with malasadas for desert), listening to the Portuguese music, people speaking sentences in half English, half Portuguese, and being in the parade on Sunday and seeing all the people who line the streets to come out and watch our celebration.

I was very close to my great-grandmother, Avó Maria Inez, who passed away a few years ago. Some of the most special memories I have of her are making sweet bread together in her kitchen on Festa weekend and also all year long watching her make by hand my various Festa outfits, having to visit her often to get measured and then for many fittings throughout the months.

I also have fond memories during Festa weekend of helping my Avôs Mesquita barbecue and prepare food in the hall kitchen and then helping them serve during Festa Weekend.

Festa is one of my favorite times of the year because it reminds me of these special times spent with people I love the most, and it also makes me reflect on why we celebrate the Festa do Espirito Santo, to begin with. I love how the sense of celebration, comradery, and giving back to the Portuguese community that happens during Festa carries on the story of Queen Saint Isabel’s selflessness and the sacrifice she made for her people of Portugal.

I want to thank the Byrne Family for this opportunity to represent our Portuguese community as this year’s Festa King. It means so much to me. The Festa and everything Portuguese has always been deeply important to me. I realize today that growing up in such a loving Portuguese family and community has given me confidence, shown me the importance of giving back and has given me a great sense of belonging, which I am very thankful for.

The greater knowledge I will gain throughout this upcoming year about our Portuguese traditions will only strengthen my pride in our Portuguese community and my heritage. The memories I will make this upcoming year are ones I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I know my Avó Maria Inez and all our other family members will be so proud to see the next generations following in their footsteps.

I pray that God blesses us all this upcoming year and that the divine grace of the Holy Spirit continues to bless each one of us.

Thank you for this tremendous honor.

Philip Mesquita