By Teresa Garcia
On November 1, the city of Coachella held a 5k run and festivities in honor of All Saints Day or as the Hispanic culture knows it, Dia de los Muertos. The celebration took place on 6th street in downtown Coachella.
Dia de los Muertos is a day celebrated throughout Latin America in honor of those who have gone before us. Families take time to set up an altar consisting of fruits and other offerings for the traveling spirits to come and visit. Flowers and picnics at cemeteries are common on this day. This day is about maintaining a connection between the living and dead family members.
The 5k run was the first for this celebration on the eastern side of the valley. The run began around 8 pm and 500 runners took part in the nightly run, many runners came dressed up in Dia de los Muertos inspired attire. Skeleton printed outfits and painted faces were a common theme as well as bright floral arrangements adorned on the heads of the celebrants.
One of the features of the celebration was the display of Dia de los Muertos artwork inside an empty building near downtown. The artwork was curated by local artists and every painting or installation had a “Muertos” theme. Some were paintings of skulls or altar like installations representing what Dia de los Muertos means. Giant, colorfully painted skulls were positioned on wooden crates in downtown where the starting line of the race was located.
Jalisco Taco was on hand to feed the runners and the celebration goers during and after the run. There was a beer garden that was jam packed as the runners began trickling into the finish line. Local bands played to the crowd during the run and there were plenty of booths and vendors to check out during the festivities.
Along with the many altars constructed by families of the deceased were altars and crosses dedicated and constructed for a cause. Many of the altars were set up to give a voice to social injustices and its victims. Dozens of crosses were set up across an empty lot to showcase the family members who have died while crossing the United States/Mexico Border. A cross next to the mock graveyeard urged President Obama to reconsider amnesty and to reassure that this will never happen again.