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Historical Society hosts festival to celebrate Day of the Dead

Dancing for the dead

Posted: November 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Aztec dancer Maria Soria wears a headdress of rooster and ostrich feathers as she performs a dance to honor the ancestors at the Dia de los Muertos Festival held at Heritage Junction in Newhall on Saturday.

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Celebration of the “Day of the Dead” is alive and well in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society held its first Day of the Dead Festival on Saturday at Newhall’s Heritage Junction.

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a Latin American holiday held Nov. 1 and 2 that coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

A major tradition of Day of the Dead is to build private or familial altars to honor the deceased. People often decorate these altars with carved and decorated sugar skulls.

Altars are also often adorned with the favorite food or drinks of those who have died.

At the Historical Society’s festival Saturday, people decorated altars with more ceremonial items, crosses and candles, as well as more personal items, such as bags of potato chips and soft drink bottles.

Denise Gutierrez, of Canyon Country, attended the event with her two sons. She said it was the first time in her life she had gone to a Day of the Dead festival, but that her mother would often send money to relatives in Guatemala to help construct altars for deceased family members.

Gutierrez said the event let the community see something new and gave her an opportunity to experience Latin American culture with her children.

“I want them to learn and be active in their heritage,” she said of her sons. “That’s what this whole thing is. It’s a learning experience for people about something they may never have known about.”

Attendees could enter the event with either a $5 donation or by donating two canned food items for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry.

Briana Parra, a volunteer who operated the front gate at Heritage Junction, said event organizers were expecting more than 500 people to attend the event from noon to 8 p.m.



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