The Latin American holiday of El Dia de los Muertos (the day of the dead) was celebrated Sunday evening across Fresno.
Fresno State’s Aztec Dance Club hosted an event on campus near at the Free Speech area. Aztec dancing was featured alongside altar displays honoring the deceased. The altars will be on display until Monday evening.
The downtown event had been put on by the Arte Americas for almost thirty years, and the Latino cultural arts center also presented an exhibition focused on the holiday.
“There are a lot of people who know about the sugar skull iconography or painted faces, but still aren’t knowledgeable as to the roots of the tradition,” Arte Americas executive director Frank Delgado said. “It is our duty as a cultural center to take the opportunity to educate our guests and to give them a deeper understanding and appreciation for the tradition.”
The event was on the Fulton Mall in front of Peeve’s Public House where performances by traditional Aztec dancers took place.
Hundreds of event attendees then led a candlelight procession from the Fulton Mall to the Arte Americas cultural center.
At the center, there was more Aztec and other group dancing along with food vendors and other booths set up selling various items outside, along with art galleries inside.
“We have everything that everyone needs,” volunteer coordinator Janie Rostro said. “We’ll be selling candles and light-up helium balloons, plus there will be lots of face painters on hand all day long.”
Lydia Serrano and her family dressed up and painted their faces like skulls for the El Dia de los Muertos event.
“We came here a couple years ago and I like to bring my kids to expose them to the cultural events,” Serrano said. “We also came in honor of my dad who passed away two years ago.”
Serrano said events like this are important to the community and added that she is happy with the turnout and hoped that the event would continue to grow.
“This donation goes toward helping to cover the costs of the event, and makes it possible for us to continue presenting culturally significant events for the Valley residents,” Rostro said.