The celebration — on Saturday, June 1, this year — signifies the start of the annual festa and draws a crowd of thousands for the activities that follow.
Tracy residents Allison Rickman, 10, and Audrey Arnaudo, 7, were side maids this year for the little queen, Bailey Gualco, 9.
Allison’s family has been a part of the festa royalty for three generations.
“I am excited to follow in my grammy’s and great-grandma’s footsteps,” Allison said. “I’m having fun with my friends and can’t wait to be part of the parades this year.”
Her grandmother Belmida Rickman, great-grandmother Mary Rocha Joseph and aunt Joann Joseph Freeman were all festa queens.
“It was a lot of fun when I did it,” Belmida Rickman said. “The girls were picked from the families involved with the IPFES and Catholic Portuguese backgrounds. I remember having these long, ornate capes we would wear, and the job of the side maids were to help carry them. We did a lot of walking and appeared in many other cities here in California. It was an honor being one of the queens, and I’m so proud so see my granddaughter doing this now.”
Robert Rickman, Allison’s father and a city councilman, also had a role in the festa during his youth in Tracy.
“The festa is part of my family’s heritage, tradition and faith,” he said. “I participated in the parade as a boy. It is an honor and I am proud that my daughter is a side maid this year.”
This year’s big queen is Jennifer Torres, attended by side maids Christina Junqueiro and Natalie Torres.
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