NAUGATUCK — The borough kicked off a weekend of Portuguese festivities by naming Carlos Conceicao Portuguese mayor of the day.
During a short ceremony at Naugatuck Town Hall last Friday morning, local politicians and members of the Portuguese Club honored Conceicao for his contributions to the borough ahead of the club’s Sao Paio festival.
Shortly after becoming mayor, Conceicao said he had no plans to make big changes in Naugatuck during his day in office.
“I’m not a politician. I don’t get involved with that,” Conceicao said.
Conceicao moved to the United Stated in 1993 to give his children more opportunities, he said.
“I think I’ve done that. I think my job as a father is complete,” he said.
Conceicao’s 23-year-old daughter is a nurse and his 30-year-old son is an electrician.
When he first moved to the United States, Conceicao said he spoke a little English because he had lived in South Africa for a few years as a child. He also lived in Brazil for six years before making his way to Naugatuck, where he joined his sister who was already living here.
“When I came to the United States, I had three jobs at the same time,” Conceicao said.
At that time, his wife didn’t work, so he had to earn enough money to support her and their two children.
“You know how Portuguese people are. They want (to provide) for their family first and themselves second,” Conceicao said.
Conceicao works as a foreman for Arborio, a Cromwell-based construction corporation. He also volunteers to manage the Portuguese Club’s bar.
Conceicao, who is a United States citizen, said he plans to continue living in the United States, but wants to go back to Portugal for vacation with his wife.
During the ceremony at Naugatuck Town Hall, Mayor Robert Mezzo noted the strength and fortitude of Portuguese-Americans.
As the borough worked to get electricity back to the 80 households still in the dark as of last Friday morning, Mezzo said Conceicao would have a full plate as mayor for the day.
“He has no idea what he’s in for,” Mezzo joked.
Mezzo said Conceicao fought hard for his success in Naugatuck and serves as a role model for other citizens.
Several state dignitaries were on hand to honor Conceicao.
State Rep. Rosa Rebimbas read a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly recognizing Conceicao for his contributions to the Naugatuck community.
State Sen. Joe Crisco said Conceicao is part of a quilt of people from different cultures that have made the United States a great nation.
“We congratulate the Portuguese people and Mayor Carlos for what they represent,” Crisco said.
State Sen. Joan Hartley also congratulated Conceicao on being named mayor of the day.
“I know we’re going to have a lot of roads paved and great things done today,” Hartley joked.
The ceremony kicked off a weekend of events as the Portuguese Club’s 61st annual Sao Paio Festival took over Naugatuck. The festivities included an adult soccer game, a 5K road race, food, music dancing, a parade, and a mass.
The Sao Paio festival honors the patron saint of Torreira, a fishing village in Portugal from which many borough residents immigrated. Legend has it that Sao Paio was beheaded during the Spanish Inquisition and his body washed up in Torreira.
The Republican American contributed to this report.