Salute to Port Arthur’s many cultures. Cultural Heritage Showcase planned Oct. 14.

Published 12:20 am Sunday, September 24, 2023

Port Arthur became the home for many, some to work, some to escape tyranny, some to start a family.

Some came through Ellis Island, some through New Orleans and others though Galveston or other ports along the coast.

Representatives of at least 25 countries are set to take part in a unique celebration that highlights the city’s diversity.

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The Cultural Heritage Showcase is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 14 at Bow Bowers Civic Center.

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is leading the City of Port Arthur’s 125th anniversary celebration.

Quasquincentennial Chairperson Verna Rutherford described the event as somewhat of a trip around the world but all under one roof.

Rutherford credits fellow team member Tammy Kotzur and co-chairs Brenda Vaughn, Carolyn Thibodeaux and Gloria Sanchez for outreach efforts that brought in such a variety of collections.

The event will have cultural representatives wearing attire of their respective countries while some will offer food, educational information or music.

“Whether residents have been here all their lives or if they arrived here sometimes during their lifetime, we all have a story to tell about why we’re here,” Rutherford said.

“There are many interesting stories regarding the backgrounds, customs and traditions of families who ended up here.”

Some Port Arthurans can trace the family member who first came to America and Port Arthur, such as the Grado family.

For Sarah Bowers Weeks, it is grandmother Rosaria Sireno Grado. She arrived in Port Arthur on July 4, 1913, from Sicily.

The Grado name is familiar with some Port Arthurians, as Grado and husband Charles ran Grado’s grocery on West 7th Street for 60 years, according to previous reporting.

Joseph C. Drago is another resident who’s family left Sicily for Port Arthur.

And the list, and their accomplishments, goes on.

Weeks and Drago are members of the American Italian Culture Club. Recently she, and other members, visited the club’s monument located next to the Port Arthur Public Library.

The upcoming cultural showcase is free for participants and patrons.

Event chairs encourage anyone who is interested in participating to let them know by calling 409-554-7035 or emailing the Cultural Heritage Committee at