Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” in English is a Mexican holiday which focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died to help support their journey to the afterlife.
Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall hosted Day of the Dead celebrations on their grounds, and soon after my arrival I realized that this was not nearly as much of a day of mourning, as it was a day of celebration, seeing men and women of all ages with painted faces singing and dancing.
The path along the walkway to the event grounds were lined with white paper bags, each colored and decorated in remembrance of a fallen loved one. The bags were then illuminated with a single candle as nightfall approached to light the pathway leading from the event to the parking lot. “This one is for my grandma,” said Newhall native Stacey Gomez. “She always loved celebrating Dia De Los Muertos.”
The opening ceremony included “danzantes” – traditional Mexican dancers who wear a headdress – color guard, and high profile dignitaries from throughout the community of Hispanic heritage who each gave a few words about what Dia De Los Muertos means to them and it’s history.
The event itself featured a stage with nonstop performances ranging from Hispanic musicians to traditional celebration dances highlighted by Aztec dancers all the way from Mexico City.
The Eternal Valley chapel was decorated with a spectacular altar (shown above) as well as featuring an art gallery with art from professional artists as well as local school children. There were even live paintings being done in one of the back rooms in the mortuary.
Throughout the festival there were booths with homemade goods such as sugar skulls, bracelets, various clothing for children and adults, as well as multiple other altars families decorated to remember a specific loved one who had passed away within the previous year. Not to mention the food vendors who’s smell wafted throughout the festival and even into the parking lots.
“This is the second time they have hosted Day of the Dead here,” said SCV resident Katie Deering. “I hope they will continue to have the festival here for years to come, especially since the turnout this year is far greater than last year.”