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MRPS celebrating 90th Holy Ghost celebration
Annalicia Machado Luis, the 2009 MRPS Festa queen at center, is flanked by her side maids, twin sisters Jaqueline, right, and Genavieve Kisst of Manteca. - photo by Photo by Leonard Photography
Kylee Machado will be riding in a special float in, perhaps, the most unique seat of the MRPS festa parade on Sunday.
No, she is not the festa queen this year. That honor belongs to her 14-year-old cousin, Annalicia Luis.

But being the youngest member of a five-generation family that has been deeply entrenched in the nine-decade history of the Manteca-Ripon Pentecost Society makes her deserving of the place of honor she will occupy when the colorful procession makes its way from the MRPS Hall on Grant Street to St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church on North Street for the traditional mass at 10:45 a.m., the religious highlight of this annual Holy Ghost celebration.

Nine-month-old Kylee is a member of the Machado family of Manteca with octogenarian Alice Machado as the matriarch of her growing clan.

“We are all members of MRPS, all directors of MRPS, and most of us except Joe, the youngest, have been president of MRPS. But Joe will follow me (as president) someday,” said Alyce Machado Luis who is this year’s proud president of the MRPS. The reigning queen, Annalicia, is her daughter. Kylee is the granddaughter of her brother Richard, whose son Richie and wife Jenna are the baby’s proud parents.

The siblings Luis was referring to are her brothers Ed, Richard, Joe III and her sister Cecelia. Their brother Ron was killed in a motorcycle accident years ago when he was in his 20s.

Annalicia most likely will not be the last female member of her extended family to serve as festa queen. That has been another part of the family tradition. Matriarch Alice, who took over the family dairy farming operation after her husband Joe died, was festa queen when she was 14 years old, daughter Alyce said. Her reign took place in Mountain View where her family was living at the time.

Alice’s two daughters – Cecelia and Alyce – later followed in her royal footsteps. Cecelia has been a middle queen and little queen, while sibling Alyce has been a little queen and later big queen.

Annalicia, the latest member of the Machado clan to serve as MRPS festa queen, just graduated from elementary and will be a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Modesto this fall. A member of the Ripon 4-H, she is interested in pursuing a career as a veterinarian someday. She is also very athletic. She plays competitive soccer, basketball, and volleyball in which she has always served as team captain.

A member of the family’s fourth generation has already taken on major responsibilities as well with the MRPS. Eighteen-year-old Anthony who just graduated from Central Catholic High School and will be attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall, and the son of Alyce is currently the youngest director of the MRPS board.

“I’m proud of it – we’re talking about generations upholding our tradition. And he’s worked hard in that capacity,” said the MRPS president. Alyce said she appointed her son as director when she herself became a director “because I needed a right-hand person to help me, and I wanted to involve him in the organization so he can be a part of it.”

Part of her reason for getting him involved in the organization, which was established the year following the incorporation of Manteca as a city in 1918, is to make sure he will continue on the family tradition, Alyce said.

And he’s been a big help, she said. “He’s very good in taking on responsibilities,” said Alyce who is also the MRPS events planner for the hall and the one who takes care of all the reservations for the hall.

The director’s job has a lot of responsibilities, she said – from carrying flags and banners during events such as the annual festa and when they march in parades, to cleaning up the hall, and helping serve at all MRPS functions.

“He has also gone on the route with the men that go out asking for donations (for the festa). There’s not too much that he doesn’t do,” Alyce explained.

MRPS: 90 years old and ‘very proud’
Alyce is especially proud to serve as MRPS president this year, not only for the privilege of being at the helm of the organization that has been near and dear to her heart, but also because of the milestone that the group is celebrating this year – the 90th year of MRPS.

“We’re 90 years old. We’re very proud of being 90 years old because the city was incorporated when we came into existence. It’s pretty neat,” Alyce proudly pointed out.

Manteca was, in fact, incorporated in 1918 which makes the city 91 years old.
Her family was not involved in the organization before the Manteca-Ripon Portuguese societies merged, Alyce said.

But “my father was involved in the Ripon one before the two merged. That was definitely done in the 1950s. My uncles were involved here in Manteca. But the Ripon Community Center was built by the Portuguese. That was our Portuguese Hall until we sold it to the city (of Ripon) when the two combined to become the Manteca-Ripon Pentecost Society,” Alyce explained.

The hardwood floor in the Ripon center’s dance hall “is the original wood” of the old Portuguese hall, she added.

As to the annual festa celebration, she said, “It’s important because it’s part of our cultural heritage as well as our religious upbringing. It’s deeply seated in our Catholic faith, and it’s practicing our Catholic faith in the manner that our forefathers did. The story of St. Isabel is part of what we try to impart to our kids.”

Sunday’s festa parade will begin at the MRPS Hall on the corner of Grant and Center streets at 9:30 a.m. Presiding at the 10:45 a.m. Mass will be Father Dante Dammay. The mass will be in English with the Portuguese Choir providing the service music.

Back at the hall after the mass, sopas will be served to the public followed by an auction. In the evening, there will be the annual festa dance from 8 p.m. until midnight with music to be provided by the Progresso band.

Preceding Sunday’s religious celebration will be the traditional rosary in the MRPS Hall chapel starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday.