REGION — Cities throughout North San Diego County are celebrating Día de los Muertos throughout the end of October and early November with community events offering traditional food, dance and chances to honor loved ones who have passed on.
Originating in Mexico, Día de los Muertos is traditionally celebrated Nov. 1-2 and allows families the chance to celebrate and honor their deceased loved ones.
In the city of Solana Beach, an annual Día de los Muertos celebration on Oct. 23 at La Colonia Park drew residents from the historic La Colonia de Eden Gardens community and neighboring cities of Encinitas, Oceanside and beyond.
This year’s event was explicitly focused on the ancestors who worked in the agricultural fields of Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Encinitas and other surrounding areas when La Colonia was founded.
“It means a lot because this community originated in the 1920s, and many of the families came together during that time,” said event emcee Brittney Rojos Canales. “We want to keep our history and community going.”
Along with enjoying live music and kids’ activities, families erected elaborate ofrendas, or altars, honoring former La Colonia residents, along the steps of the park and in the trunks of classic cars.
Every year for the past several years, Donna Ortega and her brother Benny Barajas have set up an ofrenda in the back of Ortega’s 1957 Chevy Bel Air in honor of their mother, Margarita Barajas.
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her,” Ortega said. “Our roots go back to La Colonia — our abuelo and abuelas, tíos and tías used to live here. I spent many childhood summers here. That’s why I feel like we belong here.”
Further north, Friends of Oceanside Día de los Muertos had its 21st annual celebration in downtown Oceanside. There, dozens of individuals also set up ofrendas in the trunks of classic cars during the Por Siempre Car Show.
Families were also able to create a tribute to a loved one in the chalk graveyard and enjoy music. Entertainment included traditional carnival parades and dances such as Comparsa, Danza de los Diablos and Danza de los Rubios.
Additional cities have planned Día de los Muertos events for the coming week.
The Encinitas Día de los Muertos celebration will take place on Oct. 29 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Encinitas Community Center, located at 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr. The family-friendly event will include performances by Ballet Folklórico de San Dieguito, Ballet Folklórico Rancho Buena Vista High School, Mariachi Nuevo San Diego, Mariachi Estado de Oro, among others, a lowrider car show by Callejeros de Encinitas Car Club.
There will also be a community ofrenda, face painting contest, and activities including sugar skull making, face painting and tissue flower making. Find more information at encinitasarts.org.
The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, will host its 27th annual Día de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 1 from 3 to 8 p.m. Entry to the museum will be free for the event, which will include a community altar, dance performances by Aztec dance group Xinachtli and Tierra Caliente Academy of Arts, an artisan craft market, face painting and arts and crafts, and a variety of food trucks.
Visit artcenter.org for more information.
Vista’s historic Rancho Guajome Adobe will host a Día de los Muertos celebration on Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that includes food, altars, entertainment and arts and crafts. Cash-only entry to the event is $4 for adults, $3 for ages 4 to 12 and free for ages three and under. Rancho Guajome Adobe is located at 2210 N Santa Fe Ave.