By: Fredwill Hernandez
In [its 20thyear] celebration of honoring and remembering the dead through one of Mexico’s oldest traditions: Dia De Los Metros [Spanish for Day of the Dead], on Sat. – Nov. 2, thousands flocked Hollywood Forever Cemetery to attend one of the “most anticipated” family-friendly events of the year in Los Angeles.
The brainchild of Tyler Cassidy and Daisy Marquez, and co-founder Celine Mares who conceptualized the necessity of incorporating this enigmatic mystical custom to thrive within the realms of the Forever cemetery has become a yearly tradition due to very meticulous curated events throughout the day!
The “day boasted” a vibrant traditional procession in the home of Hollywood’s Immortals with traditional Aztec blessings and Regional Musical-Dance group dedications, one hundred plus altars created by members of the community to their ancestors and loved ones, hundreds of Aztec ritual dancers in full costume, “five stages” featuring music and theatrical performances, an Art Exhibition in the Cathedral Mausoleum featuring [the] work by the artist of the year and 15 more artists, a costume contest for the best dressed – $1,000 prize for 1st place and $500 for 2nd place, a children’s area with arts & crafts, puppet shows and more, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors from around Los Angeles, and also a presentation of Altar winners in which the judges selected the best altar of each of the following categories: Theme of Event, Traditional Altar, Contemporary Altar – the best of “each category” winning $5,000.
“Dia De Los Muertos: we knew what it was as children and we always had a small altar at home to keep our departed close to us. We started attending Dia De Los Muertos [at Hollywood Forever] and doing the altar thing about nine years ago and just went all in gung-ho,” eloquently explained Brenda Hernandez, who was wearing a dress inspired by [and wore during] Las Amarillas Dance of Guanajuato, Mexico, which she custom designed [as a combination of Las Amarillas] with her own touch of multiple flowers.
The [yearly] event also boasts a great line-up of Latin acts, and this year was no different. The likes of [The Trio] Sávila, The Delirians, [Colombia’s] Lido Pimienta, all took the stage but it was [San Francisco’s] Cecilia Peña-Govea known artistically as La Doña, who [really] took over Dia De Los Muertos’ [main] Muerte y Tradición stage. Her catchy songs, soulful voice along with the live percussion, and the horns section which she complimented throughout her performance by [also] “playing her trumpet” really set her performance apart!
“Dia De Los Muertos: It means everything to me, it’s a real special time of year for me because I feel the veil is open. I feel I am visited by my deceased loved ones, they come in my dreams, they are helping me — guiding me through different things. I feel so blessed to have that guidance, that proximity to them in this moment but to have a celebration that is so cultured based is really important because it gives Latinos specially Mexicans [Chicanos], the second generation – [brown] kids here in the United States an opportunity to really delve into and celebrate their roots and to connect with each other, so to see it “so large and so beautiful,” it’s a movement: it’s really important,” eloquently expressed La Doña, [to The Hollywood 360] after her electrifying performance.
La Doña’s performance set the stage for the highly anticipated performance by the evening’s headliners Café Tacvba, who aside from closing the magical night with some of their classics, are “coincidently” [also] celebrating their 30thyear anniversary [this year] as band.