Mayor of the day helps keep tradition alive

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Naugatuck Portuguese Mayor of the Day Tony Sapata addresses the crowd during a ceremony Sept. 1 at Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — For Tony Sapata, being named the Portuguese mayor of the day “is one of the greatest honors.”

Sapata, a 59-year-old who immigrated to Naugatuck with his family from Brazil in 1960, was recognized during a ceremony in front of Town Hall on Sept. 1. The ceremony kicked off the Clube Uniao Portuguesa’s 66th annual Sao Paio Feast.

Sapata has long been a fan of the annual feast, a love that began at a young when he attended the feast with his sister, Lucy.

“When I was young my father would take Lucy and I down to Sao Paio every Labor Day weekend. It was a great experience. We got to meet our old friends. My family would come from New Jersey and we would have a great time,” Sapata said.

As the years went on, Sapata wanted to do more than just attend the feast.

“As I got older my sister, Rose, asked me to help out, and 35 years later I am still helping out,” Sapata said.

Sapata said he’s proud to be involved in something with such a long tradition. The feast was started in 1951 by the club’s ladies auxiliary, he said.

“Sixty-six years later this festival is still going on with the help of our great volunteers, who put in a lot of time and a lot of hard work,” Sapata said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess praised Sapata for all the work he does.

“Tony does many, many great things, essentially what he is doing is keeping a great Portuguese tradition alive,” Hess said.

Sapata encouraged the younger generation to get involved to ensure the tradition continues.

“I can see in the near future this great tradition could be coming to an end if we don’t get the young people involved,” said Sapata, before adding with a smile, “As ‘mayor,’ to keep the young blood in town, I am going to call an emergency meeting to try to lower the mill rate in this town.”