Dia de los Muertos celebrations honor loved ones, celebrate art

11/01/2013 2:54 PM

11/01/2013 2:56 PM

Lively celebrations for the Day of the Dead are planned in Modesto as the Mexican holiday is observed this weekend.

Dia de los Muertos, a day dedicated to ancestors and loved ones passed, traditionally is time for families and communities to gather and share food, memories and more. Elaborate altars to those who have departed are constructed, and the revelers often wear the iconic “catrina” skeletal face paint.

In Modesto, the holiday will be feted with processions, performances, music and artwork.

First, tonight, the Latino Community Roundtable hosts the Dia de los Muertos Celebracion (Day of the Dead Celebration). The event coincides with the group’s annual Latinos of the Year Awards banquet. This year, the organization decided to combine the two events to give it more of a community feel and encourage people to take part in the traditional festivities

“With the population of Latino community in Stanislaus County, we see a lot of people here celebrate Day of the Dead in San Francisco and San Jose and other Bay Area cities,” the Latino Community Roundtable’s Maggie Mejia said. “We’re ready to bring that caliber of cultural awareness to Modesto.”

Altars are being built in the lobby at Modesto Centre Plaza on Friday, which will be open to public viewing. The public is also invited to take part in the free Dia de los Muertos procession, which starts at 6 p.m. in the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church office parking lot on K Street and makes its way to Centre Plaza. Aztec dancers will lead the march, and there will be more dancers, singers, face painting and performances at the ticketed awards banquet.

Mejia said she hopes to turn the combined Latinos of the Year banquet and Dia de los Muertos event into an annual happening.

Another inaugural event that has designs on becoming yearly is the Dia de los Muertos Music and Art Festival.

The newly formed Lograr Community Institute is sponsoring the show Saturday at the State Theatre. The nonprofit group founded by Henry Jauregui, the former owner of the Aztlan Bookstore in downtown Modesto, has held two other musical events in Modesto since the beginning of the year.

This event is aimed at bringing the Latino community together for celebration and remembrance.

“We want to honor our loved ones with music and art,” he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for young people to experience new types of music and get a diversity of what is out there.”

Playing the event will be Stockton musical group Mariachi Luz De Luna, San Francisco Afro-Colombian band La Misa Negra, New Mexican all-female band Mala Mana and local group Babel. The mix of music, Jauregui said, is aimed at giving people more than the regional Mexican banda and norteño music that is most prevalent on area radio.

The event also will feature artwork by Modesto native Francisco Franco and a theatrical performance by California State University, Stanislaus, theatrical group Los Hijos Del Campo.

“We want to make this all high-energy, positive and family-friendly,” Jauregui said.

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