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‘Blow Your Horns and Play Some Music’: New Bedford Celebrates Cape Verdean Independence Day

In New Bedford Saturday, a celebration of Cape Verdean Independence Day featured a raucous car caravan and a state visit from the nation’s Prime Minister, Ulisses Correia e Silva.

Due to COVID restrictions, the caravan was held in lieu of the traditional annual parade, said Diane Gomes, who helped organize the event for the Cape Verdean Recognition Committee. “We can't have the parade, but we can have a car caravan and still celebrate. So what better way to do it than to blow your horns and play some music.”

As the caravan wound through New Bedford, local drumline group Batucada Otu Level pounded rhythms from the bed of a pickup truck. Drivers honked and waved at onlookers, and many decked out their cars with pictures of palm trees, whales, and Cape Verdean flags.

Patricia Andrade brought a pair of 2-foot-high printed letters—C and V. “We're going to hang them out the window and shout at anybody that looks at us. Viva Cabo Verde!”

The procession was led by a motorcade carrying Cape Verde’s Prime Minister, Ulisses Correia e Silva, on his second visit to New Bedford since assuming office in 2016. He spoke about his country’s longstanding relationship with the region, where Cape Verdean immigrants first arrived more than two hundred years ago to work in the whaling industry. “Massachusetts represents our largest diaspora in the world, and it’s a pleasure to come stay with our people and celebrate our Independence Day.”

Massachusetts is home to more than 50,000 people of Cape Verdean descent—more than any other state.

Cape Verde declared independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.