NAUGATUCK — Borough and state officials gathered alongside members of the Naugatuck Portuguese Club at Naugatuck Town Hall Friday morning to honor Maria do Rosario Laferriere as the borough’s Portuguese Mayor for the Day.
The ceremony officially kicked off the club’s 67th annual Feast of Sao Paio, a three-day festival of food, music and dancing that celebrates Portuguese culture.
“It means a lot to me,” Laferriere said of being named mayor for the day. “I like the community. I like to help keep the Portuguese community going.”
Laferriere was born in Estarreja, Portugal and immigrated to Naugatuck in 1979. Laferriere, 56, now lives in Watertown but remains active with the Portuguese Club.
Laferriere has volunteered with the club for 35 years. She has served as the secretary of the club’s ladies auxiliary since 2012 and a member of the club’s board of directors since 2016.
“Our club is the backbone of our community and we continue the tradition of this festival. But the festival is not something that gets put on automatically on its own,” said state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, who along with state Sen. George Logan presented Laferriere with a state proclamation. “The hard work that she and her husband (Perry Laferriere) dedicates is what allows us to continue to grow and welcome everyone from across the state of Connecticut to these festivities and continue our traditions.”
Jaime DaSilva, chairman of the Feast of Sao Paio, said the club chose Laferriere because of everything she and her husband do at the club.
“It was a close race between two people. This was husband and wife. The only reason Maria won was because she was Portuguese, obviously,” DaSilva joked.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said Laferriere has helped to keep traditions in the club and in the borough alive.
“Our great Portuguese traditions and our traditions in Naugatuck will go on forever. These traditions, to carry them on, takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of great people,” Hess said. “It is a great honor for me to be here today and to help you carry on these great traditions.”