The Feast of the Holy Ghost parade was assembled and ready to step off from the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority terminal on Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m., but one key element was missing—the band. A mishap with the fast ferry from New Bedford meant only half of the Bay State Band was on the Island.

“We can’t start without the band,” said Melissa Randall, treasurer of the Portuguese American Club.

And so they waited.

The unanticipated delay allowed a moment of reflection during a typically chaotic time. Tricia Bergeron, former president of the club and current member of its board of directors, approached the children who would lead the parade, waiting in the shade on the steps of the Oak Bluffs Police Station.

“Do you know what you’re doing today?” she asked. “Does anybody know anything about the feast?”

Eight-year-old Humberto McGroarty Sampaio piped up: “We celebrate the Queen of Portugal!”

Bay State Band led the way, after a late start due to ferry issues. — Mark Lovewell

Ms. Bergeron pressed further: “And what did she do?”

Humberto knew: “She helped her people.”

The Feast of the Holy Ghost commemorates Queen Isabella of Aragon, who was committed to alleviating suffering in her community. She is known particularly for feeding the hungry. The Portuguese American Club follows the example of Isabella as a benevolent society that raises money to distribute to those in need. This year alone they’ve given approximately $35,000 in scholarships.

Humberto, along with Erika Cournoyer, 8, and Addison Blake, 8, would hold Isabella’s crown, staff and display pedestal (securely, with two hands at all times, of course) along the march through Oak Bluffs to pay tribute to her legacy. They were excited to get going.

Around 11:45 a.m., the rest of the Bay State Band arrived. Director Frank Noonan was frazzled. “I’m still looking for my equipment,” he said, as he dashed off to find the missing pieces.

Grupo Folclorico Madeirense from New Bedford. — Mark Lovewell

But by 12:05 p.m., everything had coalesced and the parade stepped off, led by the Oak Bluffs Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services. The Sheriff’s department and Coast Guard followed.

Ian Estrella and Madison Mello held the Portuguese American Club banner. The Queen’s court and club board trailed close behind. The Bay State Band provided the back beat to the marchers, cars and float. A raucous line of fire trucks and ambulances from all across the Island followed, contrasted by the comparatively quiet folk music of the Grupo Folclorico Madeirense from New Bedford who formed the tail end of the procession.

Spectators gathered outside the Flying Horses Carousel, some in folding chairs and others on their feet, ready to grab candy thrown from the cars and float. A little girl blew bubbles into the street. A young boy was kept close via a teddy bear backpack-leash hybrid.

Shoppers on Circuit avenue stopped to watch as the parade moved forward. People on porches and in yards cheered and bounced to lively Madeiran folk tunes as the procession made its way down Masonic avenue.

Well wishers lined the parade route. — Mark Lovewell

On Vineyard avenue, just before the Portuguese American Club, the procession stopped at the Sacred Heart Cemetery where the board laid wreaths to commemorate deceased club members.

The somber moment was followed with fanfare when the march culminated at the club. After a performance by the Bay State Band, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, and an invocation from minister Deon Thomas, club president Gina deBettencourt delivered brief remarks. Then the festivities recommenced—the celebration had started on Saturday evening.

Crowds enjoyed Portuguese delicacies, an auction of items including a decorative lighthouse made by Robert Gatchell, and a performance by Grupo Folclorico Madeirense.

The group was founded in 1979 by Madeiran immigrants, and the band plays traditional folk instruments, including the brinquinho, a homemade instrument consisting of doll-shaped bamboo castanets that dance to the beat when the instrument is played. Janet Vinci has been in the group for 11 years. She plays the rajao, which is similar to a ukulele. Wearing a hand-embroidered wool costume, she explained, “It’s a joy to remember your roots.”

Ms. Bergeron agreed. She’s been helping to run the feast since 1992, but has been involved in the club her whole life—her grandfather was one of its founders.

“It’s all about carrying on the tradition of trying to take care of the community, which is what we love doing,” she said.

Portuguese woman of the year from the Cape and Islands Catherine Amaral Deese was a guest of honor in the parade and at the party that followed. She has been involved with the club for 40 years.

She said the feast has modernized a bit since she first started volunteering; they’ve switched to disposable plates and cutlery to make cleanup easier.

“But it’s really not changed too much, because how could we change it? It’s all about Queen Isabella and what she did for the poor.”

More pictures of the celebration.