GUSTINE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) –A small community in Merced County with Portuguese ties is gearing up for a big event, the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is visiting Gustine on Sunday.

“Milestone moment for our city, it’s fantastic,” said Gustine Mayor Patrick Nagy. “We have a very rich Portuguese tradition in Gustine, and the Gustine Pentecost Society organized this.”

The town is home to about 6,000 people and it was founded as a Portuguese dairy community. Today, those traditions are still celebrated. Just a couple of weeks ago, Gustine held one of its annual ‘festas’.

We have two of the best Portuguese festas in the United States right here,” said Nagy. 

On Sunday, President de Sousa will be getting a key to the city.

“And that’s not something we do lightly. Since I’ve been on the council since 2009, I think we’ve only done it one other time,” the mayor said. 

The foreign leader will be arriving at the Gustine Pentecost Society around 4:00 p.m.

“There’ll be a 15-car motorcade led by the California Highway Patrol. Secret Service will be with him also,” said Nagy. 

Gustine PD is working with the Secret Service.

“They do a lot of homework to ensure the safety of a president from another country,” said Chief Ruben Chavez. “We’ll have extra officers on patrol, extra officers assigned to the event.”

Valley congressman Jim Costa is of Portuguese descent and he’ll be at the meet and greet on Sunday.

“My grandparents on both sides of my family came from the Azor islands. They were non-English speaking,” said Costa. “They came here with nothing but the clothes on their back but a desire for success and opportunities.”

The congressman said he’s looking forward to the special visit.

“We’re very proud of our Portuguese ancestry.”

President de Sousa was first elected as the 20th president of Portugal in 2016. He was reelected in 2021 with more than 60 percent of the popular vote.

The GPS Hall will be open to the public on Sunday, but the meet and greet with the Portuguese leader is by invitation only.

De Sousa will also be in the Bay Area next week after his stop in Gustine.