Thursday marked the beginning of the 102nd Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford.

As with every year, Thursday's opening ceremony included the raising of the American, Portuguese and Maderian flags, the laying of the wreath and words in honor of the historic tradition in front of the plaques of the feast's four original founders.

Portuguese Consulate to New Bedford Pedro Carneiro says the feast is a time to be proud and reflect on Portuguese and Maderian culture.

"We should be proud, and at the same time, very humble to be able to share this experience," said Carneiro.

Mayor Jon Mitchell marveled in the fact the families of the founders are still involved and many of the organizers and volunteers are based in long traditions of family.

"Many of the same families, many of the same relatives of the 'Four Mannys' are still involved in it, still making it happen and their friends and their family too," Mitchell said. "After 102 years, it's still a family event. That's amazing to me."

"We take a lot of pride in this festival and we hope, with God's blessing, that we have a great weekend and make a lot of memories to pass on to our children so they can pass on to their children and we can do this for another 102 years," said 2016 Feast Committee President Paul Leconte.

The feast grounds will be open from noon to midnight Friday through Sunday.

Multiple musical acts will perform for free across four stages on the feast grounds and traditional Portuguese food will be available for purchase.

Saturday will feature a 5k road race and special pricing and activities for children under 10. The annual parade will travel down Acushnet Ave. on Sunday.

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