Mayor for a day

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Borough honors Branco to kickoff Sao Paio Festival

Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo, left, presents Domingos Branco with a certificate after naming him the Portuguese Mayor of the Day Friday morning at Town Hall. The ceremony officially started the Sao Paio Festival, which will run through Sunday. The festival includes a 5K race, soccer games, and food. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck had a new mayor on Friday.

Domingos Branco was named Portuguese Mayor of the Day during a ceremony at Town Hall to mark the opening of the Sao Paio Festival.

“We are truly blessed that, after each summer, we begin fall with this fantastic event,” said Mayor Robert Mezzo about the festival.

Mezzo said the festival is a great source of pride for the community.

“We celebrate Portuguese-American culture here for the next three days, but more importantly, Portuguese-American culture, because of the great men and women who have found homes here in Naugatuck, has become Naugatuck culture. This is a celebration in our community that everyone gets behind and enjoys,” Mezzo said of the festival.

Mezzo then turned his attention towards the new mayor for the day.

“With each celebration of mayor of the day we get to honor the best and most committed people in our community, and today is no different. Today, as mayor of the day, we get to honor Domingos Branco,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo described Branco as a family man who served both his country and community in numerous ways.

“He’s one of those individuals that leads with quiet dignity and class in everything that he does,” Mezzo said. “Domingos’ list of community activities is too long to mention, but from police commission to Naugatuck Youth Soccer to the various activities that he chairs in the club, he truly embodies what it means to be a Portuguese-American here in the borough of Naugatuck.”

Mezzo introduced Branco to the audience and presented him with a certificate.

Branco began his speech by thanking his mother for setting a great example for him. He then told the audience about how the festival has changed throughout the years.

“When I grew up, you didn’t speak English at that festival. It didn’t happen. It was a Portuguese thing,” Branco said. “And now it’s become part of the fabric of our town. I think that’s the thing I’m proudest of.”

Branco explained that the festival has become a Naugatuck tradition which draws more people than just the Portuguese-American community in the borough.

He finished his speech by taking a moment to remember a few members who had been active in the Portuguese community, including his aunt, who had passed away this year.

Deputy Mayor Tamth Rossi presented Branco with an official citation from state representatives Rosa Rebimbas and David Labriola, and state senators Joseph Crisco and Joan Hartley.

Before presenting the citation, she told the audience that Branco has always been there when called upon to help out with the Shred-It event for the seniors.

“He is tireless and gracious and wonderful about always helping us out with that,” Rossi said.

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