The holiday is called Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, but it’s really a celebration of life. “It’s not Halloween. ... It’s not being a zombie. You have lots of vibrant colors,” said Latino Community Roundtable President Maggie Mejia, inviting the community to the downtown procession and party Saturday.
This is the third year for the LCR-hosted celebration, and it has a new venue, a new procession route and an earlier date so as to have more evening sun before daylight saving time ends Nov. 1. From now on, the event will be held on a late-October Saturday, Mejia said. “There are always several other activities on the 1st and 2nd (of November), so this gives us an opportunity to share our culture with more people,” she said.
The route change is to make the procession a bit longer, Mejia said. It will begin at 6 p.m. in St. Stanislaus Catholic Church’s small parking lot on K Street, head east on K, turn right on 10th Street, left on J Street, right on 11th Street, right on I Street and right on Eighth Street to finish at the Red Event Center.
The Latino Community Roundtable has dedicated this year’s Day of the Dead observance in Modesto to the more than 10,000 lives lost in the Mexico City earthquake of Sept. 19, 1985.
The march is led by Franklin & Downs Funeral Home. “They’ve been wonderful,” Mejia said. “They’ve brought out a hearse and they’ve decorated a coffin just for Day of the Dead, and it will be carried in the procession. We may have to put it on rollers this year – it’s a bit heavy.”
Anyone and everyone is encouraged to join in the free procession, or to enjoy it from the sidewalk. What people wear is up to them, Mejia said, but she offered some guidelines.
A lot of participants have their faces done in Day of the Dead skeletal makeup. Three LCR members will be offering the service Saturday: Erin Milan Salon at 1150 Ninth St., the Paul Mitchell School at 3100 McHenry Ave., and Elizabeth Macias in front of Brenden Theatres. Prices will depend on design, and appointments are necessary; get contact information at www.lcrstan.org/Page_4.html.
Day of the Dead items also are available at party and Halloween shops. “If they want to wear a mask, by all means,” Mejia said.
10th Street will be closed between J and K streets for the Impala Car Club show and shine.
Wear comfortable walking shoes for the half-mile route, she said, and “we encourage people to bring a photo of a loved one they would like to remember,” and to carry battery-operated candles and colorful flowers such a marigolds. “Anything that will make it very festive, because it is a celebration of life, not mourning the dead.”
The procession also will include Aztec and ballet folklorico dancers, elaborately dressed horsemen and the Impala Car Club.
At the Red Event Center after the procession will be a dinner, entertainment and live auction. There also will be competitions for best costumed participants in an indoor procession, best decorated tables and best altars.
“We have a lot of high schools and youth groups participating in the altars contest,” Mejia said. “It’s exciting because we are teaching our youth not to forget their culture. We would like to sponsor as many of those children to stay and have dinner with us. We’re at 100 now, and if I can get more sponsors, we would like to have 150.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327
About Day of the Dead
Dia de los Muertos is the annual Mexican and Central American observance of the Catholic Feasts of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 1-2. Although the intent of this celebration is to establish communion with departed loved ones, the rituals that accomplish that are varied and incorporate elements of pre-Hispanic beliefs and practices and Spanish Catholic Ritual. It is a time of family reunions, not only for the living, but also for the dead, who for a few brief hours are believed to return to be with living relatives. Altars with offerings of food, candy, beverages, toys and candles are decorated with many flowers in preparation for an all-night vigil. By sharing in these family and community rituals, grief is appeased, relationships are reinforced and life is celebrated.
Source: Latino Community Roundtable
Dia de los Muertos
WHAT: Latino Community Roundtable’s Day of the Dead observance
WHEN: 3 to 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Impala Car Club show and shine in front of Brenden Theatres; 4 to 5 p.m., doors open at the Red Event Center, 921 Eighth St., for viewing of decorated tables and altars; 6 p.m., procession begins at K Street parking lot of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church; 7 p.m., dinner, entertainment, contests, auction and more get underway at the Red Event Center.
TICKETS: Car show, procession, and viewing of tables and altars are free. Dinner tickets are $35 general admission, $20 students. They are available at the Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1150 Ninth St., beginning Thursday after lunch; Guayabitos Mexican Restaurant, 500 Kansas Ave., by Friday after 2 p.m.; and Guayabitos Turlock, 129 Fourth St., by Friday after 3 p.m.