Community organizers and organizations come together to keep the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Oceanside. Spearheaded by many and headed by Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos and Chema and Manuel Navarro of Por Siempre Car Club, the festival will continue this tradition and has moved back to Downtown Oceanside where it began for its 20th celebratory year.
This year, the festival will continue with its many community partners to continue the largest attended Dia de los Muertos Festival again at Downtown Oceanside. This vibrant event will showcase over 25 altars, traditional dancers, Classic Car Show, a shopping Mercado, a family friendly event.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition dating back 3,000 years that honors the memories of the deceased. "It's a celebration of the lives of loved ones who aren't here anymore” states the Board President, Cathy Nykiel. At the heart of the festival was the use of more than 30,000 marigolds, the traditional Dia de los Muertos flower, grown especially for the day by Oceanside’s own, Mellano Flower Company since the festival’s inception.
"The pungent aroma of the flowers rises up to heaven just like the spirits of the dead do," said Fran Connell, an Oceanside resident who has volunteered at the celebration for the past three years. The altar, full of “ofrendas”, is the focal point to observing the Día de los Muertos. In Mexico it is built at home and/or at the grave side. Entire families construct altars as an annual commitment. Individuals who wish to build an altar at the event must apply.
Today: Many immigrants, especially the Oaxacan community, have brought these traditions with them. They are now sharing them with everyone by participating in Día de los Muertos Festivals in the U.S. Non-Mexicans are learning that Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life and death that speaks to everyone who has lost somebody. Some people attend because either they are curious, or they want to just have a good time. Perhaps they want to continue this wonderful tradition. Whatever the reason, it’s wonderful to see so many different types of
people gathered in one place to celebrate life and death. In la fiesta of Día de los Muertos, time no longer bars one spirit from another by reason of death.
Throughout the day, traditional music and entertainment of the Mexican culture will be viewed. The day starts out with an opening ceremony. This ritual is to give thanks and ask for peace, harmony and longevity by thanking Mother Earth her bountifulness.
The day continues with Ballet Folk Lorico and the Rubios groups. Diablos Danzas, and Dances are part of the Carnival form the Days of the Dead.-The festivities of the Days of the Dead include traditional and satirical dances like the Rubios and the Chilolos. “La Danza de Los Rubios” (Dance of the Fair-skinned Ones) is a traditional dance from the Mixtec area that honors the cowboys who herded cattle from Oaxaca to the states of Veracruz and Puebla as well as parodies the ruler from Spanish descent. This group and the dance reflect fearless and intrepid men who risked their lives herding cattle. This is a unique dance because instead of “sones” and “jarabes”, they dance to music of violins and guitars which is associated to west coastal music in Mexico.
This year’s entertainment includes: Ballet Folk Lorico from Sangre Mestiza, Calpulli (blessing to Mother Earth), The Danza de los Rubios and the Danza de los Diablos, and the Catrina Contest.
Por Siempre Car Club started doing a Car Show in 2009 at the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Oceanside. Since that day the numbers of classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles has grown to over 70. Each year, Chema and Manuel host and coordinate this element of the festival. Classic and antique vehicle entries have presented colorful and elaborate ofrenda/altars in their car, trunk or bed of their vehicle. Por Siempre was the first and only Car Club to implement the idea of merging car clubs to bring the Dia de los Muertos altar into a car club show and enhance the festival. “ We are often imitated but never duplicated, “ stated Chema Navarro.
And of course the great food we all love, tamales, tortas, tacos, corn/elote, raspados, burritos, mole and so much more. Vendors from all over California will be there to show off their prowess in providing traditional food for the festival. And the desserts to sweeten your palette.
A new addition to the event is a Low Rider Bicycle element to the event. We invite bicycle groups to join us. With Oceanside being a heavily bicycle ridden area, the organization felt that this would be a welcome bonus for the event. Groups or individuals need to contact the organization to secure a space. Entries will need to provide a donation of a non-perishable food item in preparation for the organization’s food drive next month.
You too can share in this celebration: the free interactive chalk cemetery has continuously grown over the years where you can dedicate images, flowers and candles to your loved ones. Oceanside has continuously been identified with its integrated cultural diversity for several decades. This particular event has grown with the increased participation from our city’s residents and guests from all over San Diego County and its surrounding area. Our Día de los Muertos Festival is becoming one of the largest events of this tradition in the US. Everyone gets a chance to remember a loved one in a graphic, participatory way by decorating their own Ofrenda with chalk, candles, and marigolds.
Join us and you will agree that NO other Day of the Dead celebration offers you the traditional feeling of this holiday. As you take in the traditional Day of the Dead tributes such as chalk cemeteries, floral alters, vehicular altars and other such remembrances, you can’t help but feel a sense of calmness and serenity come over you making this the most emotionally altering Dia you'll ever experience!
MORE Information is available on the event website or check it out on Facebook and Instagram.