A Trip down Memory Lane

by Patty Arceo

Tu Eres Pedro, Y Sobre Esta Roca Edificaré Mi Iglesia Estas fueron las Palabras que Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo le diryio a Nuestro, Santo Parton, Senor San Pedro...

The late Mrs. Vilma Arceo

June was always the busiest month of the year in the Arceo Family, it was the month to celebrate and commemorate our Patron Saint, San Pedro, June 29. My mother, Mrs. Vilma Arceo, or Dofña Vilma or Mama Vilma was always busy preparing the Religious Ceremonies. Bear in mind that throughout the month of May, she had already finished the Novena's of La Virgen de Fatima. Remember, that Mama Vilma was always at the primary school volunteering our children for the Living Rosary at the park. It was always beautiful to see the children, all dressed in white and paying homage to our Lady of Fatima.

Nevertheless, I always thought that she had something special for "El Dia de San Pedro". By the way, if you have been to our Catholic Church, you will see the statue of our Patron Saint, Nuestro Patron. My mother along with the cooperation of the Church raised funds to buy and bring the statue from Merida, Yucatan. She went all the way to Merida to buy the statue and did not abandon ship until it was fully installed in its rightful place for all to pay homage. Mama Vilma never liked the sea, but she made sure that she came, in the three hour trip on the <i> Elsa P.</i> ferry to bring the statue from Belize City.

From then on, Dia de San Pedro ceremonies started to get much bigger. As of the 21st of June the nine days of Novena started at the Church, of course always the same group of ladies were there. Let's all make an effort and at least for one day attend and participate in our religious traditions. Then the day that everybody has anxiously awaited arrives with the siren, or the waking of all fishermen by "la sirena", (don't worry not the live one, but the siren from the local Fire Department) at around 3: 00 am. It was always fun to be with your friends on the Fire Engine and going around town waking everybody for "La Misa de Gallos" (Fisherman's Mass). The Church starts to get filled by all the men of our community for their special mass given to them by Father Raskowski. It was always beautiful to listen to our island men sing to the top of their voices songs of praise and devoted to our Patron Saint. A couple of times we had Mariachi's from across the border, Chetumal, to serenade our Patron. Then of course, the ladies and youths of the island would get inside to sing at the end of the religious ceremony, the famous Mañanitas. Let us not forget that after the mass when the men made their way to the Lion's Den, they were met by the racketeering of bolador (fireworks and firecrackers) of which they were really loud. I remember one time when Mama Vilma used to import "globos", (air balloons) beautifully decorated with many colours. It was meant to be set on the sea as a sign to guide our fishermen on their daily chores. However it was discontinued because one time it got caught up on a coconut tree and the palms caught fire and everybody panicked

So much for los globos. Of course this was way way back when the ceremony was celebrated at the Primary School.Anyway, we're on our way to the Lion's Den for "el desayuno" (the breakfast) prepared by the ladies of the Church for our men. I think that I forgot to tell you how the breakfast came about to serve about 200 plus guests. Well one week before the 29th, my mom would send me and other friends from house to house, store to store, to ask donations for the breakfast. I can still recall soliciting, café or milo or milk or pan dulce, or plates and cups. Of course it got better by the year when we're given golf carts to pick up the breakfast goodies. I think one time we had more volunteers than the goodies. The cooperation that San Pedro gives to keep our tradition is compared to none.

After the breakfast, at around 6: 00 am , everybody would go to the piers to find friends or rides for the "Procession de Lanchas", the boat procession. Leading the Sea Procession is a small statue of Señor San Pedro on Mr. Jaman Graniel or Martin Leslie's boat. This Procession is the main focus of the whole celebration, as all the fishermen bring their families and friends to proceed along the river and anchor by the co-op, or by Thunderbolt Terminal or San Pablo Chapel. The boats will then anchor for the Reverend Father to bless their families and boats. After the ceremonies, everybody would then go home to finally get some real sleep, as the 29" usually falls on a weekend and there is also the dances, cultural presentations and of course the mechanical games. San Pedro has always celebrated and honoured Nuestro Señor San Pedro with the evening procession through the main streets of town. The Procession starts at the Co-op and finishes at the Catholic Church with the praying of the Last Novena. San Pedro will never be the same with the kind of Leadership and devotion that Mama Vilma gave wholeheartedly. Dona Vilma Arceo will always be to me my role model and my "Rock".

By the way before I get myself in trouble, I would like to make special mention of the people who tirelessly contributed to my mom's devotion to build a San Pedro with strong spiritual and moral values. Special mention goes to Tia Martita Leslie, Marcia Nufñez, Lenny Alamilla, Leoni Trejo, Severo Guerrero, Will Nuñlez, Peseto Rivero, Dale Wallace, Father Riveroll, Father Raskowski, Father Murray, Will Alamilla, Petit Nu&#241;ez, Severo Guerrero, Jr., Ramon Guerrero, Martha Guerrero, Maria Lanza, and many more, of course you know who you are and be proud to have made a difference in San Pedro. FELIZ DIA DE SAN PEDRO

150th Anniversary Features
Anniversary Home Page
Where is San Pedro?
Ancient San Pedro, by Herman Smith
150 Years Ago, by Angel Nuñez
Life in San Pedro 1850, by Peter Laws
Who owned San Pedro? by Peter Laws
Who governed this settlement? by Mayor Alberto Nuñez and Leo Cuellar
Life in San Pedro in Former Times, by Miriam Graniel
A Trip down Memory Lane, by Patty Arceo
Don Lucio Guerrero relives the past
Meet Mr. Alan Forman
Ramon's Village
Ruby's Hotel
San Pedro Post Office
Senior Citizens Think Back, by Dorian Nuñez
Long Live Beauty Queens
Article in the San Pedro Sun BEFORE the celebration
Article in the San Pedro Sun AFTER the celebration
Real Estate Corner, 150 Years, by Diane Campbell
Oh San Pedro, Brother Jake and the Boy Scout camp, by John Esquivel

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