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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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San Gabriel honors ancestors with Día de Los Muertos

Brian Ly
Residents of San Gabriel were requested to submit photos of loved ones to place on a communal ofrenda, or altar, for the event.

    As the sun set on San Gabriel City, a vibrant array of marigolds and sugar skulls adorned the Mission Playhouse, setting the stage for a night of remembrance and celebration. On Nov. 2, San Gabriel City celebrated Día de Los Muertos by hosting a celebratory event at the Mission Playhouse. Running from 6p.m to 8:30p.m, festivities included a community altar, live performances, activities for event goers, and food sold by El Pavo Bakery and Restaurant.

   Commonly celebrated on the first and second of November, the holiday originated in Mexico and stands as a tradition to honor deceased friends and family members. 

   Community members submitted photos of their loved ones to be placed on the ofrenda, or altar, that was displayed in the playhouse and adorned with traditional decorations such as sugar skulls and marigolds. 

   “We’re celebrating life,” stated senior recreation leader Desiree Gomez, who helped organize the ofrenda. “You see a lot of orange in this event because it’s a guiding light for souls, towards home. You can decorate altars with things that remind you of the people you’re honoring, anything that makes them feel happy to be back.” 

   While Día de Los Muertos is commonly celebrated by those with Mexican heritage, Gomez wanted to ensure that the event was open to all members of the community as a time of remembrance and celebration. 

   “I would like the community to feel a sense of belonging, of home, because just because they’re gone, it doesn’t mean they’re really gone,” stated Gomez. “Día de Los Muertos just makes me feel happy, and I want others to feel the same, regardless if they’re Latino, or Mexican, or a different ethnicity because this is an event for everyone.” 

   Just outside the playhouse were two booths for event goers to receive free temporary tattoos and face painting based on common Día de Los Muertos imagery such as sugar skulls and skeletons. 

Seniors Yadira Ortiz and Victor Yu work with Parks and Recreation, helping apply temporary tattoos at a booth. (Brian Ly)

  “I am from Latin America, so my culture doesn’t necessarily do Día de Los Muertos as much as Mexico does,” said senior Yadira Ortiz, who was working the event with Parks and Recreation. “But it’s still honoring my ancestors. It’s my first time, but I love seeing so many people come out, I think it’s amazing.” 

   Event staff helped apply makeup and tattoos, encouraging people of all ages to participate in the festivities. 

   “As an Asian who grew up around Hispanics and Hispanic culture, I grew up with this holiday because of the neighborhood I was in,” stated senior Victor Yu, who was also working the event with Parks and Recreation.

   Inside the playhouse were free performances by the bands Los Colibri and Ballet Folklorico, who showcased mariachi and folklorico music respectively. 

Los Colibri performs in the San Gabriel Mission. (Brian Ly)

   Mariachi music is a style of Mexican music composed of mostly stringed instruments, with performers wearing traditional costumes consisting of embroidered blouses, colorful skirts, and shawls. Folklorico emphasizes cultural dance, often highly choreographed with ballet characteristics; depending on the region, folklorico music will have performers dress in styles of clothing depending on the region. 

   People could also line up to purchase food from El Pavo Bakery and Restaurant, with a wide selection of menu items such as champurrado (chocolate atole), cafe de olla, chocolate caliente (hot chocolate), pan dulce (sweet bread), and tamales.


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About the Contributor
Brian Ly
Brian Ly, Production Chief
Brian Ly is the Production Chief for the Tongva Times and is entering his fourth year with the paper. In his personal life, Brian has a keen interest in insects, collectible card games, books, and movies. He even aspires to raise his own "Gregor Samsas" when he finds the right environment. Interestingly, Brian initially joined the newspaper in his freshman year, mistaking it for a history class due to the presence of a textbook. Despite the unexpected start, he remained with the Tongva Times, drawn by the strong sense of community and the chance to interact with diverse individuals, from school athletes to the mayor of San Gabriel.
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