Elvira Villacaña (from right) and her daughters, Daisy Nuñez and Nancy Reyes don traditional clothing and costume at Watsonville Dia de los Muertos celebration in 2021. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian file

WATSONVILLE—This Friday the Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) will present its Fifth Annual Día de Muertos celebration at Watsonville City Plaza. 

The event will feature a screening of the Disney/Pixar animated movie “Coco,” as well as music, dance and artwork inspired by the traditional Mexican holiday, also known as Day of the Dead. 

The centerpiece of the annual celebration are the altars, which are created by local families and nonprofit organizations. The altars, or “ofrendas,” honor ancestors and loved ones who have died. Monarch Services, WHS Hope Club, CASA of Santa Cruz County, Community Life Service and the California Highway Patrol are among the groups creating ofrendas this year.

A free online program, including films, tutorials and podcasts, will coincide with the event.

“We are hosting this beautiful community event in partnership with many local organizations,” said WFF Executive Director Consuelo Alba. “The lively event has brought thousands of people together in previous years. It’s a healing experience. We gather in community to remember and honor those we have loved and lost. Families love coming to the Plaza to see the community altars, watch ‘Coco’ and continue this ancient tradition.”

Things kick off at 4pm with Day of the Dead art activities. Pajaro Valley Arts, Watsonville Brillante, WHS Hope Club, Hospice of Santa Cruz and Arte del Corazón will offer face-painting, paper butterflies, luminarias and colorful mosaic making. 

Performances begin at 5pm, featuring local groups Activities for All / Academia de Música Ilusión, Estrellas de Esperanza, White Hawk Aztec Dancers and the quartet RosaAzul. 

“Coco” will screen in Spanish with English subtitles at 7pm. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothes. 

In addition, more than 30 local artists and artisans will be showcased at the first Mercado de Día de Muertos marketplace, hosted by local organization Arte del Corazón. The market will be held at Romo Park, across from the Plaza from 3-7pm.

“Arte del Corazón is so happy to collaborate on this year’s Día de Muertos event,” said founder Monica Galván. “We’ve gathered an amazing range of artists, from jewelry makers to illustrators. Bring the family and enjoy our lively downtown while partaking in free arts activities, face painting, and supporting local artists.”

Día de los Muertos 2022 is presented by the WFF in partnership with the the City of Watsonville Parks & Community Services and Santa Cruz County Office of Education. The primary sponsor is Hospice of Santa Cruz County, with support from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Packard Foundation and community partners Pajaro Valley Arts, Arte del Corazón and Watsonville Farmers Market.

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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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