It is now November, and what better way than to start off the month with a traditional Mexican holiday? Dia de los Muertos was celebrated at Elk Grove’s Derr-Okamoto park on Nov. 2.
Dia de los Muertos, which is Spanish for “Day of the Dead,” is a Mexican holiday that is a celebration for past loved-ones. It is a multi-day holiday that goes from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, which was the day the Elk Grove celebration fell on.
Heather Shortino, recreation coordinator for the special events department at the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD), noted that this was the first time that this event was held. The CSD partnered with the city of Elk Grove, as they wanted to bring more cultural events to the community.
“We got a little crowd, I’m hoping more people come out,” Shortino said. “I know it’s right after Halloween. We’re hoping to get maybe 200 people to come out.”
In less than an hour, the number had increased. More people had come out to join in on the festivities. Many people even had their faces painted in the style of the skulls that are synonymous with the holiday.
Among the main attractions was a screening of the 2017 Disney/Pixar movie, Coco, as a screen was set up on the field with many people bringing chairs and blankets to prepare for the screening after dark.
A line was formed for a face-painting booth, as many people, be it child or adult, stood there and awaited their turn for their faces to be painted.
Another attraction was the dance team that performed at the event. Abraham Perez, administrative director for Ballet Folklórico de Sacramento, said that he had spoken to Shortino, as well as the CSD and the city of Elk Grove.
“We’re fortunate in that the work that we do takes us to many great places and we get the privilege of being involved,” Perez said. “We perform all throughout the year and yes, we are involved and have been involved in a variety of different Dia de los Muertos events and performances.”
The dance group had danced in one area of the park, with a group of girls taking center stage at first, before alternating to the duo of Jessenya Swink and Esteban Vivas, both of whom danced for Instituto Mazatlan de Bellas Artes and they collaborated with Ballet Folklorico. They even moved their sets to the playground area of the park, which also drew the crowd to watch them perform over there.
“Family members have had experience going to shows for this type of dancing and they thought it would be cool for me to get involved,” Swink said. “It’s pretty fun. It’s a traditional way to do things.”
For Daisy Rocha, who brought her two children to this event, she had heard about this event through the CSD. She said that she homeschools for her 2-year-old son, Ethan and they plan their curriculum around the activities that Elk Grove provides.
This month, they are learning about cultures “around the world,” she said. One example that she did was attend the Chinese storytime at the Franklin library on Oct. 26. She also noted that her son learns about other cultures through music.
“All the cultures that we have been learning about is associated through music,” she said.