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Park Slope extravaganza offers taste of South America traditions

Season’s greetings! Slope’s Festa Junina celebrates winter in South America

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Photo gallery

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Party time!: People of all ages joined in the fun at a traditional Brazilian party known as Festa Junina in Park Slope on June 16.
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All dolled up: Four-year-old Lia Barros of Bushwick wore a traditional costume for the Brazilian festival that honors Saints John, Peter, and Anthony.
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Brazilian fun: Audrey Weyler and her 3-year-old daugher Gabriella of Park Slope, Denise Howard and her 3-year-old daughter Stella of Park Slope, and Marcia Lunardi and her 7-year-old daughter Victoria of Windsor Terrace had a blast at the traditional Brazilian party.
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Yum: Chef Patricia Magalhaes served up gluten-free goodies at the Brazilian festival.

A group of Brazilian moms brought a little piece of South America to Park Slope last weekend with what they claim was the neighborhood’s first Brazilian June Festival.

The “Festa Junina” is an annual extravaganza celebrated all over Brazil with traditional music, dances, and food to welcome the South American country’s winter season, (which because of its position in the southern hemisphere has winter when we have summer). The party at Saint Saviour’s Parish Hall on Eighth Avenue last Sunday boasted more than 200 revelers and lived up to the event’s proud tradition, according to attendees.

“I think we were able to really bring back that traditional feeling of when we were growing up in Brazil,” said Second Street resident Cecilia Schiera, who helped organize the bash.

The party was full of authentic Brazilian cuisine, rehearsed square dancing (who knew?), partygoers wearing traditional peasant costumes, family-friendly games, and live tunes by Brazilian musician Davi Vieira and his band.

The June Festival, which has been around since the Portuguese colonized Brazil in the 16th century, is also a time for people to celebrate and give thanks to the saints, including St. John, St. Peter, and St. Anthony, for the successful growth of crops.

Native Brazilian Sara DaSilva said the Brooklyn event was the first June Festival she had ever attended outside of Brazil and that it more than compared.

“You call this our Thanksgiving celebration,” said DaSilva, who was thrilled to see a bit of her homeland brought to the borough.

The idea for the Brooklyn festival began when Schiera, a mother of two young children, moved to Park Slope a year ago. She met other moms from Brazil and started a children’s activity service that she runs out of her home. When she and the other mothers reminisced about growing up in Brazil, they realized what they missed most was the June Festival. So they decided to bring the June Festival to Park Slope.

“We all have the June Festival in common,” said Schiera. “[It] is something no one could escape while we were growing up.” She said the extravaganza is celebrated in every Brazilian city — for the most part — in the same manner.

The Saint Saviour Parish donated the space and all proceeds from the party went to the parish’s community outreach to the poor program.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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