marigolds hall road farm
Ignacio Nieto harvests marigolds on a farm on Hall Road in Las Lomas outside of Watsonville. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Live music, dance performances, community altars and family activities will fill the afternoon in Watsonville Plaza Friday during the annual Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration.

Hosted by Watsonville Film Festival, the sixth annual event will also feature a free showing of the movie, “Coco.” 

“Families love coming to the Plaza to watch the beloved movie ‘Coco,’ and observe this heartfelt and festive holiday that honors loved ones who are no longer with us,” WFF Executive Director Consuelo Alba said. “This celebration brings the community together in a meaningful way and is a healing experience for many.”

New this year are authentic dances rarely seen in the U.S. or in Mexico as they are only performed during Day of the Dead observances, Alba said.

WFF is partnering with Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Hospice of Santa Cruz County and Watsonville Parks and Community Services and online resources to present the free family event.

“Día de Muertos is an important cultural tradition that honors and celebrates those who have passed on, and reminds us that death is a natural part of the human experience,” County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah said. “We are thrilled to work with the Watsonville Film Festival to continue this long-standing community celebration, and invite community members of all ages to join us in the Watsonville Plaza on October 27.”

Arte del Corazón will host a Mercado de Muertos at Romo Park across Main Street from the plaza. Local arts and crafts by community artists will be for sale.

Starting at 4pm, and coinciding with the Watsonville Farmers’ Market, visitors will be treated to performances by Folklorico Ollin, Raíces Mestizas, Mariachi Ilusión, Estrellas de Esperanza and White Hawk Aztec Dancers. The public will be invited to dress like fancy skeletons to participate in the Catrina and Catrin Catwalk. “Coco” will screen in Spanish with English subtitles at dusk. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothes.

At the heart of the celebration are the altars—set up by families and nonprofit organizations—that honor ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. Pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead) made by local bakeries, and marigolds harvested in Pájaro Valley fields, will accompany the photos and mementos on the ofrendas (altars). The public is welcome to bring their own flowers and offerings to leave on a community altar.

“Watsonville Parks and Community Services is so excited to partner again with the Watsonville Film Festival to bring this wonderful event to our downtown,” said Nick Calubaquib, director of Watsonville Parks and Community Services. “A big thank you to the staff, volunteers and sponsors that make this possible.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.



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