Fourth of July festivities are underway in Acadiana.
Uncle Sam’s Jam in Downtown Lafayette had hundreds of people show up for the live music and fireworks, despite the threats of rain.
But for one man in the crowd, the celebration was extra special.
"It feels amazing. I have been in America for 20 years," said Gus Rezende, who is the coordinator for Uncle Sam’s Jam, but also just became an American citizen last week.
He came to the United States from Brazil as an 18 year old on a tennis scholarship.
What began as a temporary move, became a path to American citizenship.
"Brazil is a country like many others in South America that goes through a lot of struggles. It was hard you know. My mom, my dad and my sister are still in Brazil today. I moved by myself taking a risk. At 18 years old, you don’t care. It’s like you’re just moving next door. But as you get older it hits you, but America is home now," he said.
Rezende has been the event coordinator for the Independence Day celebration since it started four years ago.
Now he’s celebrating his first Fourth of July as an American citizen, at the event he puts so much work into.
"And it took me 20 years to get my citizenship and now I’m an American citizen as of last week. Four years ago when I started, I never thought about this day coming. But it’s very unique and its very bittersweet to have the citizenship and know that I’m going to be here for the long haul and be able to raise my family here," said Rezende.
After spending 15 years here in Lafayette, he is proud to call Acadiana home with his wife and son.
"I love this country and I love this town. It’s so similar to Brazilian culture. The food, the music, the atmosphere, how people treat each other, despite the challenges, people still have fun," said Rezende.
Now he hopes his story will help others around him.
"I ask everyone to have an open mind about the difficulties when people have to come to this country. Everybody has a different circumstance of why they’re coming and where they are from and why they need to be here. I just happen to be really lucky," he said.
And tomorrow will be his first Independence Day as an American, which he will happily be celebrating with his family and friends here in Lafayette.