The Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, celebrations date back hundreds of years and are intended to honor those who have died. Poncha Pena curated the first-ever Grand Park Day of the Dead Art Festival, meant to merge tradition with art and welcome all communities to celebrate the lives of the deceased. Kathy Vara reports from Olvera Street for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2012.
The celebration known as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, dates back hundreds of years. It is the few days a year when loved ones who have passed on are allowed to return and visit.
One visitor to Olvera Street explained it this way: “The dead come visit us and we bring them things they liked in life and we remember good times.”
Loved ones create elaborate alters, works of art that include food, flowers, photos and articles that belonged to the deceased. And each alter is unique to the person or group of people being honored.
Erica Flores was impressed by the effort put into the art work.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “The color, the way they form it all out.”
Poncha Pena is curator of the first annual Grand Park Day of the Dead Art Festival. She says even though the art work depicts death, it is really a celebration of life that brings people of different cultures and religious beliefs together.
“Everyone has ancestors,” Pena said. “That’s something people of any culture or religion can share.”
Attorney Andrea Lamberg enjoys learning more about this tradition.
“I feel strongly connected,” Lamberg said. “Mexico is our closest neighbor next door. Where we are standing was part of Mexico. It’s part of our heritage.”