When New Bedford's Feast of the Blessed Sacrament returns this weekend, there will be one notable change: the designated motorcycle parking area has a new location.

The last feast was in 2019 before the COVID pandemic forced a two-year hiatus. That last feast featured a bit of a controversy as bikers who for years parked their motorcycles in front of the Panthers Club on Madeira Avenue across the street from the main entrance to the feast grounds had to find a new place to park.

Citing "emergency security," the New Bedford Licensing Board voted unanimously in July 2019 to prohibit motorcycle parking in front of the Panthers or the club's parking lot.

New Motorcycle Parking Area For New Bedford Portuguese Feast
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
loading...

Some bikers threatened to boycott the feast over the vote, but the crisis was resolved days later when the Ponta Delgada Club just two blocks north of the Panthers offered to let the bikers park there instead.

Get our free mobile app

Feast organizers tell me the decision to ban parking in front of the Panthers was actually per order of the Massachusetts State Police.

New Motorcycle Parking Area For New Bedford Portuguese Feast
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
loading...

When the feast kicks off on Thursday, bikers will be allowed to park at the Panthers again, but not in front. Police Chief Paul Oliveira said the new designated motorcycle parking area will be on Hathaway Street on the south side of the Panthers Club.

New Motorcycle Parking Area For New Bedford Portuguese Feast
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
loading...

"There will be a manned fire truck in the same area," he said, to prevent bikers from entering Madeira Avenue in front of the feast. He said there will also be "police at the main gate, which is close by."

Oliveira said New Bedford Police are ready for the return of the feast.

"We are good to go," he said.

15 One-Hit Wonders From The '90s That Would Rock The Madeira Feast

Over the years, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament has been visited by one-hit wonders. Here are some from the 1990s who could follow suit.

We Need These Performers at the Portuguese Feast

Every year, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, also known as The Feast, has live entertainment and every year we wonder what these acts have to do with Portuguese culture, even though they're great. Here are some ideas of who we think would be a nice fit. Do you have any suggestions?