The Puente Latino Association celebrates Dia de los Muertos at Michelle Obama Library in north Long Beach
November 5, 2019
The Puente Latino Association held its annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Michelle Obama Library in north Long Beach on Saturday Nov 2.
In Latin American countries and communities, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 are celebrated as Dia de los Innocentes and Dia de los Muertos, a time to celebrate and honor the dead.
According to the event’s entertainment organizer, Octavio Mojica, the Puente Association began hosting its annual Dia de los Muertos celebration to make the cultural experience accessible to the north Long Beach community. Although similar events are held in other areas of Long Beach, Mojica explained that not all north Long Beach residents are willing or able to travel outside of the area.
“Dia de los Muertos is very profound [to] most of us in Puente, as it’s part of our culture,” Mojica told the Signal Tribune.
The free Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Michelle Obama Library provided Latin American families living in north Long Beach with an opportunity to gather as a community to celebrate the holiday. Senior women and infant girls wore indigenous blouses from various regions of Latin America.
The Puente Latino Association has worked for the past decade to connect Long Beach residents to resources available through the City and nonprofit organizations. Puente’s cultural events bring together residents, community organizations and local government.
“We wanted to make that bridge. That’s why Puente exists. Its a bridge between the residents and resources. The city [and] the community organizations sometimes don’t talk to each other, so we wanted to do that,” Mojica told the Signal Tribune. “But our main thing was to do it with the intention of having the cultural part of it. The culture, the art, the music.”
On Dia de Los Muertos, Mojica was presented with a certificate of recognition from the California Legislature Assembly. The certificate was signed by 64th District Assembly-member Mike Gipson and stated, in part, that Mojica’s “dedication and support for the preservation of the Latino community through culture, music and food is to be commended.”
The association’s Dia de los Muertos celebration lasted from 12pm to 5pm and had food trucks, music, art and an altar.
Along with a live mariachi ensemble, the Long Beach disc jockey Hawkeye provided music for the event for the third year in a row. The local DJ found it encouraging to see the community participating in Puente’s yearly event, due to the importance of continuing the tradition of Dia de los Muertos locally.
“I think its something very important that we should keep up and a great tradition that we should be able to teach our kids about,” Hawkeye said. “It’s great to see such a level of authenticity in this particular event.”
An altar, called an ofrenda in Spanish, covered in different offerings was arranged near the library’s garden. On its Facebook page, the association had encouraged those who planned to come to bring offerings and pictures of deceased loved ones to place on the community altar. Besides the photos, the gifts brought for the dead included bread, soda, candy, candles and marigolds.