OCEANSIDE — More than 65,000 celebrated Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” at Mission San Luis Rey on Oct. 31. The celebration included ballet folklorico groups, a mariachi band, 75 novelty and food vendors, a car club show, a children’s craft area, ofrenda memorial altars and a chalk cemetery.
“Our goal is to promote cultural awareness,” Tami Nino, employee of Mission San Luis Rey Cemetery, said.
Dia de los Muertos is a 3,000-year-old tradition of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua. The Mesoamerican holiday celebrates the lives of past loved ones, the interaction between the living and the dead, and the cycle of life. It is traditionally celebrated Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.
In Oceanside the tradition of Dia de los Muertos has taken on its own local flavor. Many come in traditional skeleton faces, and some children dress in Halloween costumes. “Since it’s the Day of the Dead, we decided to pull out our costumes,” Cara Dealy, 12, of Temecula, said.
It’s a tradition many look forward to celebrating every year. “Every year we come for the music, Mexican food, art, and a chance to practice our Spanish a little bit,” Werner Von Gundell of Oceanside said.
The Dia de los Muertos celebration in Oceanside is said to be one of the biggest gatherings in Southern California.