¡Que vivan los muertos! – Voice of the Monterey Bay


By Kathryn McKenzie

Day of the Dead traditions that date back to ancient times have been given new life as they continue to evolve around Monterey Bay. This year, the lifting of pandemic restrictions has led to a new blossoming of Día de los Muertos events, with everything from get-togethers at the Santa Cruz cemetery to a pop orchestra performance in Salinas.

Days of the Dead are November 1 and 2, but this weekend is the perfect time to celebrate and honor those who have passed away, with celebrations extending into next week.

All are free and open to the public.


A day of family fun with artist-in-residence Victor-Mario Zabella is scheduled for Saturday, October 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pacific Street location of the Monterey Museum of Art. No registration is required and all ages are welcome.

Participants can create engraved images of calaveras (skulls), corazones ardientes (burning hearts) and more. Free admission to the museum is offered so visitors can view Zabella’s large-scale lantern installation, “Necauhcayorl, Gratitude Memento, Recuerdo de Gratitud”, which was inspired by Día de los Muertos. The museum is at 559 Pacific St. and Zabella’s exhibit will continue through November 6.


  • Alisal Center for the Fine Arts and Monterey County Pops! will present a Día de los Muertos celebration at Sherwood Hall in Salinas on Saturday; doors open at 6 p.m. The interactive evening show includes performances by the Monterey County Pops Orchestra, ACFA Performance Ensemble, ACFA Alma y Tradición Baile Folklórico and ACAN/AUSD Mariachi Juvenil. An art exhibition with ACFA Arts Class, Ariel Mar, Armando Franco, Samantha Saldana and Ricardo Ibarra is also planned.
  • Hijos del Sol Arts Productions, Hartnell College and Hospice Giving Foundation invite the community to participate in a Day of the Dead celebration at the college, which includes traditional arts and crafts, its arts and crafts, community altars, a procession and calaveritas literarias .

The evening begins with arts and crafts workshops on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. at the Hartnell College Student Center, 411 Central Ave., with instructors helping attendees make masks, paper flags, flowers in paper, altarpieces, sugar skulls and other traditional handicrafts. All ages are welcome and equipment will be provided.

Also starting at 6 p.m., a procession led by Azolomi Danza Azteca, focusing on the artistic expression of the living through music, costumes, prayers and much more. Participants of all ages are invited to bring their LED candles, musical instruments and wear catrina/catrín costumes in honor of iconic artists, personalities, poets and politicians.

Calaveritas literarias will also be performed: these are humorous and satirical poems intended to make fun of celebrities, politicians and public figures. If you are interested in participating, email Erandi Garcia at [email protected]

There will also be an ofrenda comunitaria, or community altar, created by Hijos Del Sol which will be on display on Tuesday and Wednesday November 1 and 2, for which the public is encouraged to add notes, flowers, photos or other items. significant. to remember departed family members and dear friends. More information about the Hartnell College event is available at hospicegiving.org/dayofthedead.

San Juan Bautista

El Teatro Campesino is once again hosting a Day of the Dead party and, for the first time since the pandemic began, is hosting this one in person. All activities will take place outdoors, with activities beginning at the ETC Playhouse at 705 Fourth St. and a procession winding through downtown San Juan Bautista.

The Día de los Muertos festivities take place on Wednesday, November 2 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Performance Hall, featuring performances, altar displays, a photo booth, pan de muerto, Corina’s Cantina, and ETC Tiendita. The public is invited to add items to the community altar. The procession through San Juan Bautista starts at 7:00 p.m. and you can see the route here.

santa cruz

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History continues to put a new spin on traditional Day of the Dead activities, with a cemetery gathering, tapete ceremony, and celebration with dance, art, and music. the music.

The week of Día de los Muertos activities begins with an Evergreen Volunteer Day on Friday, where community members are encouraged to volunteer at the historic Evergreen Cemetery, 261 Evergreen St. in Santa Cruz from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Tools and gloves will be provided. A groundbreaking ceremony to officially open a new ADA-compliant pathway at the cemetery is held at 10 a.m.

Later Friday, Oaxacan artist Sergio Vicente Garcia Aguilar will create a tapete, or sand sculpture, during a special event at the MAH from 5-5:45 p.m. The artist was invited by MAH partner Senderos.

On Saturday, October 29, a Día de los Muertos celebration will take place at the Evergreen Cemetery from noon to 4 p.m., featuring live performances by the Centeotl Danza y Baile and the Senderos de Senderos Musical Ensamble. All are invited to stroll through the cemetery to see the community altars that have been erected there.

A bereavement potluck will be held at the cemetery on November 2 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Hosted by grief therapist and poet Mackenzie Studebaker and MAH curator and exhibitions director Everett Ó Cillín, attendees will learn about poems and performances on the themes of grief and bereavement and are invited to bring a ritual dish to share. It could be a comfort food, something that reminds you of a deceased loved one, or a dish tied to a memory of grief. There will also be a small community altar at the event where individuals are encouraged to bring a small ritual object to set the tone for the evening. RSVPs are required for this event.

The week will conclude with another Evergreen Volunteer Day on November 4 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, also at Evergreen Cemetery.

Sea side

  • Mission Mortuary & Memorial Park is hosting a Día de los Muertos event at Seaside Cemetery on Saturday, October 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring Mexican food, Halloween candy, and face paint.
  • Mariachi music, folk dancing and a community altar are among the delights that await the public during the Día de Los Muertos celebration on Tuesday, November 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Oldemeyer Center. The evening is organized by Palenke Arts at 986 Hilby Ave.


Building on the tradition established at previous celebrations, the Watsonville Film Festival will present its fifth annual Día de Muertos event Friday night at Watsonville Plaza, featuring the animated film “Coco” as well as music, dance and art inspired by the Day of the Dead.

“We are organizing this beautiful community event in partnership with many local organizations,” said WFF Executive Director Consuelo Alba. “It’s a healing experience. We come together in community to remember and honor those we have loved and lost. Families love coming to the square to see the community altars, watch ‘Cocoand continue this ancient tradition.

WFF partners with City of Watsonville Parks and Community Services, Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Santa Cruz County Hospice to bring the festivities to the plaza. There is also a free online program at https://watsonvillefilmfest.org/dia-de-muertos.

The heart and soul of the annual celebration are the altars created by families and nonprofit organizations to honor deceased ancestors and loved ones. Monarch Services, Watsonville High School Hope Club, CASA of Santa Cruz County, Community Life Service and the California Highway Patrol are among the groups creating ofrendas this year.

Additionally, more than 30 local artists and artisans will be showcased at the first Mercado de Día de Muertos market, organized by Arte del Corazón on Romo Lawn, across from the plaza, from 3-7 p.m.

Artistic activities begin at 4 p.m. with Pajaro Valley Arts, Watsonville Brillante, WHS Hope Club, Hospice de Santa Cruz, and Arte del Corazón offering face painting, as well as making paper butterflies, luminaries, and colorful mosaics.

Performances by local bands begin at 5:00 p.m., with activities for all/Academia de Música Ilusión, Estrellas de Esperanza, the White Hawk Aztec Dancers and the RosaAzul quartet.

The film “Coco” will be screened at 7 p.m. in Spanish with English subtitles. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothes.

Do you have something to say about this story? Send us a letter.