Chino Valley D.E.S. Club
5216 Riverside Dr, Chino, CA
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 83, Chino, CA  91708

History of Chino D.E.S.  (Pagina em Portugues)

(Some 100 years ago, there was a large ranch, thirty miles east of Los Angeles, called Rancho de Santa Ana del Chino, because its foreman, a Mestizo Indian, was thought by Spanish colonizers to be Chinese, hence the name of the town.
The industrial thrusts triggered by both world wars ushered in the fragmentation of such large holdings in favor of more intensive forms of agriculture, like dairying. This motivated dairy farmers, many of Azorean origin, who felt increasingly trapped by the urban growth pressures in the Los Angeles area, to relocate farther east where land was available. As a result, Chino, currently a rapidly expanding mixed-economy city of about 80,000 inhabitants, received its major influx of Azorean-Americans. Among them, a group of families from Imperial (El Centro Area) relocated to Chino, bringing with them the crown used for their Holy Ghost Celebrations. That same crown was to become the Chino celebration crown.
As soon as they had taken care of their most urgent earthly problems, these pioneers (they truly were!) turned their attention to more heavenly endeavors. Thus, a committee met on May 3, 1959, and decided that Holy Ghost celebrations should be instituted, and indeed, the first festa was held on the third Sunday in September of that year at a location called Junior Fairgrounds, at the corner of Central and Edison avenues in Chino.

Led by Lee Alves, the first officers of Chino DES were Tony B. Ramos, president; Virgil Cardozo, vice president; Lee V. Alves, secretary; and Carlos Lourenco, treasurer. The first board of directors was composed of the following men: Manuel Lourenco, Manuel Rodrigues Sr., Manuel Luiz, Arthur Flores, Tony G. Leonardo, Frank Aguiar Jr., Leonel Nunes, Serafim Lopes, Tony Freitas, Pete Borba, Ed Silva, Joe Simas, and Herculano Alves.

The single most important milestone in the four-decade history of Chino DES was the acquisition of the school gymnasium in 1963. the premium location, at the corner of Central Avenue and Riverside Drive, with ample parking space, made this a most felicitous move for the fledgling organization. Extensive remodeling included the addition of a stage, bar, indoor chapel, offices, conference rooms, restrooms and a well- equipped, institutional-size kitchen. In later years a whole new hall was build in the basement, which doubled the facility’s operating capacity. There are currently 380 members.
Promotion of the Portuguese language and culture is implicit in the bylaws for those who are Portuguese by birth, descent, or marriage.
The annual Holy Ghost Festa has been held since 1959, with no interruptions, every last Sunday in August. The Festa das contas is usually held in November and includes a meal attended by an average of 400 people.
The religious component of these Holy Ghost festivities takes place in St. Margaret’s Catholic Church on Central Avenue, About a Half mile from the hall. Mass is celebrated in Portuguese by an invited priest, who may come from as close as a neighboring city or as far as Canada or the Azores.

The festa follows the traditional format found in Portuguese Holy Ghost celebrations anywhere else; it includes the street parade, high mass with crowning of the queens, communal meal, auction of donated items, and an evening dance.
The gastronomic highlight, which is free and attracts many non-Portuguese, is a communal banquet called sopas e carne, basically composed of herb-flavored chunks of stewed beef with gravy-soaked slabs of wheat bread. Accompaniments usually include boiled potatoes and cabbage. Beverages are wine sweet bread called massa sovada serves as both appetizer and dessert. In terms of numbers, the year 2000 proved to be an average year. Twelve donated cows yielded about 4,000 pounds of meat, quite enough for the estimated 3,000 people who were served.
The role of music in these celebrations deserves reference. Marching bands enjoy considerable prestige in the Azores, especially in rural areas, and continue to play a visible role in the community activities of emigrated Azoreans. The Chino DES sponsors its own marching band. In addition, one or two Portuguese-American bands from other California locations are usually invited. The bands’ performance in the Holy Ghost parade, as well as in afternoon concerts, is widely appreciated.

In addition to its historical commitment to Holy Ghost, the organization sponsors social and cultural activities for all age groups. Teenagers are encouraged to join the band or the soccer teams.
To ensure financial solvency, income from membership dues is supplemented by fees from renting the hall to outside clients for weddings, banquets, dances. Aerobic classes and other community activities. When General Spinola, ex-president of Portugal, visited Chino DES he arrived early at the hall and waited a few minutes for the hall to empty out its occupants, who happened to be an exercise class of expectant mothers in their leotards. Caught off-guard by such a surprising spectacle, the general commented with a rare smile, “Stupendous. Just what politicians need!” Whether he meant the skin-tight apparel, the exercise pains, or even the labor pains, his comment remained as enigmatic as his monocle. But he understood clearly that the hall is far more than a “cathedral for the chamarrita”: it is the very center of the community.
Such visits by a former president and, with increasing frequency, by other high-profile personalities from both continental Portugal and the islands, are mutually enriching experiences. The communities learn about the new reality of democracy in their home country, while the visitors learn about the old realities of working, worrying, and praying in a distant and foreign land.

About the Researcher:

Ramiro Dutra, Ph. D.