[UPDATE: For information on the 2012 festivities, click HERE.]
This coming Saturday marks the 11th annual Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery. On this Mexican holiday, families gather to pay homage to their deceased loved ones and ancestors. Unlike Halloween however, Día de Los Muertos is meant to be joyous and respectful, not frightening. Traditionally, altars with ofrendas (offerings) are placed on graves or set up in the home. These altars can be very elaborate with lighted candles, marigold flowers, wreaths, calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls), and offerings of the person’s favorite foods and drinks—even bottles of tequila! One specialty is pan de muerto (bread of the dead) that’s baked in the shape of a skull, or a round loaf with bone-like crosses on it, and then sprinkled with sugar.
At Hollywood Forever’s Día de Los Muertos festivities you can wander around the cemetery where screen icons like Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Jayne Mansfield are buried. A traditional procession will take place starting at 2:00 p.m., followed by Aztec fire dancing, live music, face painting for the children, and of course, plenty of vendors selling authentic Mexican food. Many people will even be dressed up as the dead themselves. “Elegant” skeleton costumes are very popular, with men in suits and sombreros and women in fancy party dresses, their faces painted like macabre calaveras (skulls).
I’m really curious to see all of the extravagant costumes and altars this year. Organizers will be presenting the “Best Altar” with a $3000 cash prize and the person with the “Most Original Calavera” will win $500. I will take plenty of photos and will post some next week.
Where: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038 (between Gower and Van Ness). Parking at the cemetery is notoriously bad so you might consider taking a taxi or be prepared to walk a few blocks.
When: Saturday, October 30th from 2:00 p.m. to midnight.
Cost: Admission is $10 per person (children under 10 are free.)
More Info: Go to the official website at ladayofthedead.com for a full lineup of activities.
[update: Click this link to see my impressions of the event.]