Dia de los Muertos celebration draws crowds

Dia de los Muertos celebration draws crowds
Gergena Maldonado (left) and Bill de la Fuene, both of Vista, wearing skeleton face paint. Dia de los Muertos mixes fun with remembrance. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — A mix of religious, South American and local traditions make up the annual Dia de los Muertos celebration held at Mission San Luis Rey Oct. 28. The event was filled with fun carnival rides, entertainment, food and vender booths, and an on stage Catrina costume contest.

Catrina is a festively dressed skeleton that is the icon of the holiday.

A procession of dancers makes its way to the main stage. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday traditionally celebrated in South America. Photo by Promise Yee

The event also included longstanding and local customs. Altars, classic car trunk altars, and a chalk cemetery to remember past loved ones were a heartfelt part of the event.

“Mellano & Company donated thousands of marigolds,” said Maureen Sullivan, Mission San Luis Rey director of events and marketing. “They are a necessary part of building the altars. You can’t have Dia de Muertos without marigolds.”

Participants could view 20 altars and 60 car trunk altars.

They could also pick up a piece of chalk and decorate a chalk cemetery square in honor of a past family member or friend.

“Everyone has an opportunity to honor a loved one,” Sullivan said.

An estimated 25,000 people attended the event this year.

The mission began hosting the annual Dia de los Muertos event four years ago. Previously the celebration was hosted by MainStreet Oceanside and held at the Civic Center.

The holiday is close to the date of All Souls Day that is celebrated Nov. 2. On this day Catholics remember past loved ones and decorate their graves.

“It was a perfect marriage,” Sullivan said.

The mission cemetery was open to the public during the event so the two holidays could be celebrated together.

An All Souls Day Mass of Remembrance will be held 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Parish Serra Center.



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