Event organizers tout safety plan, express commitment to security

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – Organizers of this year’s New Bedford Portuguese Feast say they are ready to open the city’s world-famous celebration, and they say this year’s top priority is the same as it always has been: public safety.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart will once again be held in New Bedford this year — the 100th consecutive year the city has hosted the event. The four-day feast will feature authentic Madeiran food and drinks, just-about-non-stop entertainment from world-class performers and all kinds of family-friendly activities.

It will also feature 100,000 guests from all across the world — posing quite a project for local enforcement agencies.

New Bedford police said the event is heavily staffed with uniformed officers, gang units and K-9 dogs. Detective Captain Steven Vicente said he expects more than 40 officers to be patrolling the area each night.

New Bedford police marching
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Feast of the Blessed Sacrament

Event organizers say the annual feast has been safe every year, and they say they are committed to keepnig it that way. According to Larry Abreu Jacques, the event’s president, backpacks and coolers are never allowed inside, and the feast follows very stringent guidelines when it comes to ensuring underage guests don’t get their hands on any adult beverages.

“If you’re under 35, you have to go through an ID machine and swipe your license,” Jacques said. “Then, you get a wristband.”

Jacques said each guest can only receive one wristband per day, saying that eliminates the risk of patrons buying wristbands and passing them along to their underage companions.

Eyewitness News is a proud sponsor of this year’s Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. We will have a news crew at the Feast every day this weekend. Eyewitness News Anchor Shannon Hegy will have live reports from New Bedford starting tonight at 5 on WPRI 12.

You can find full coverage, including photo galleries, news articles and interviews, by clicking here.

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