Posted: Oct 22, 2012 11:18 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Updated: Oct 23, 2012 5:31 AM
Santa Maria will celebrate "Day of the Dead" or "Dia de Los Muertos" this weekend with a street fair and alter display. It happens from noon to 6 on Sunday.
The colorful alters honor loved ones amid music, dancing and festive activities for all ages.
"People enjoy decorating their memorial altars with photos, candles, food, drinks and other elements that hold special significance to those being honored," said Chris Janowicz, a facility specialist for Santa Maria Recreation and Parks. "We had around 1,000 people attend last year and are expecting an enthusiastic turnout this year, too."
Janowicz added that food vendors, arts and crafts, children's games and a performance stage featuring Aztec dancers, ballet folkloric dancers and a marimba band will also be a part of the mix. There will also be an art show exhibiting the "Day of the Dead" theme; face painting, and an activity inviting children to decorate "Day of the Dead" masks and then wear them in a short parade with the Aztec dancers.
Traditionally called "El Dia de los Muertos," the ritual, which dates back thousands of years, was primarily started by the Aztecs, who viewed death as a continuation of life. Today the celebration is a national holiday in Mexico on November 1, and focuses on gatherings of family and friends who pray for loved ones who have died. Groups often visit graves and build altars laden with skeleton art and favorite food and beverages of the departed. The holiday has spread throughout the world and may be witnessed in a variety of countries including Brazil and Spain.
The Santa Maria celebration happens at the Veterans Memorial Community Center at 313 W. Tunnell Street and at the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Santa Maria. Admission is free.
For more information, or to sign up to build an altar, contact the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department at (805) 925-0951 ext. 260.
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