A decade ago on the 75th anniversary of Oakley's Holy Ghost Festival, Juliana Marciel was the junior queen who dreamed of becoming the spiritual event's senior queen one day.
With strong Portuguese roots and a family who has been very active in the community for years, Marciel would have been thrilled to just carry on the tradition by serving as a side maid to the senior queen in her teen years. This weekend, the Livermore 18-year-old will wear an elegant gown and a soft lavender cape in memory of Queen St. Isabel, the festival's inspiration who was known for her compassion in giving to the poor and hungry.
"I'm very proud and it is a privilege," Marciel said of her senior queen title this year. "I love my heritage. I love hearing stories about it from my family."
Marciel's grandmother, Elizabeth Felipe, is the chair of this year's Oakley festival and her two cousins, Alex Felipe and Hailey Felipe of Oakley, will serve as the junior queen and junior side maid respectively. Marciel's side maids will be Alyssa Perry and Laura Waters, both of Livermore.
"It is very fun to be involved in the festival with my family," Marciel said. "It is more significant to be senior queen for the 85th anniversary."
The Oakley Holy Ghost Festival started in 1927 and organizers will honor past presidents of the Flor do Oakley Hall and Club or their families with special pins to commemorate the anniversary on Saturday night, according to volunteer
Another special element for the anniversary is that the girl representing Queen St. Isabel in the procession through downtown Oakley to St. Anthony Catholic Church on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. will ride on a special float.
Sofia Adao, 11, is excited to have that honor.
"It is so special knowing that I am representing someone who was known for helping the poor," said the Brentwood youth of portraying Queen St. Isabel.
During the late 13th century, the charitable queen would sneak bread from the palace to distribute to the poor secretly and a miracle happened when she was confronted by the king.
As legend recalls, she went to show the stolen bread beneath her apron and red roses fell to the floor instead. This is why a free traditional Portuguese meal of sopas or a beef soup served with bread is offered during the festival to anyone in the community who attends.
Alex Felipe, 12 of Oakley, said that she enjoyed selecting the lavender color for this year's capes in honor of Queen St. Isabel.
"I like wearing the dresses and the cape and walking in the parade," said the Delta Vista Middle School seventh-grader.
What: Holy Ghost Festival
When: 4 p.m. Saturday with a Mass, presentation of the court and past presidents at 7 p.m. and a dance at 9 p.m.; Continues on Sunday with a parade beginning at the Flor do Oakley Hall and proceeding to St. Anthony Church. A free community lunch will be served at the hall at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Where: Flor do Oakley Hall, 520 Second St., Oakley; Anthony Church, 971 O'Hara Ave.