Solana Beach

Locals Honor Loved Ones, Celebrate History at Solana Beach Día de los Muertos Event

The festival featured a classic car show, with community members using creatively display traditional ofrendas, or altars, to honor and leave offerings for loved ones

NBC Universal, Inc.

The name may translate to Day of the Dead, but Sunday’s Día de los Muertos festival in Solana Beach’s Colonia Park was celebrating life rather than mourning.

Last year's event was canceled due the pandemic.

Hundreds came out this weekend to the free event, which also honored the 100-year history of the La Colonia de Eden Gardens community.

“It's really special to get everybody together today and through the centennial — 100 years of La Colonia,” said Brittney Rojo, one of the event organizers.

Formed in the 1920s by Mexican farmers hired by neighboring ranch owners, the La Colonia de Eden Gardens is a tight-knit community known for its vibrant culture, Rojo told NBC 7.

Typically celebrated on the first and second days of November, Día de los Muertos is one of Mexico's most well-known holidays.

“Día de los Muertos is an event to honor ancestors,” Rojo said. “It's a Hispanic tradition, and so La Colonia is choosing to use this celebration to honor our ancestors.”

There was no shortage of creativity in how the community’s ancestors were honored Sunday afternoon. The festival featured a classic car show at which community members used to display traditional ofrendas, or altars, to honor and leave offerings for loved ones who have died.

The ofrendas incorporated items that represent those individuals and what they loved, from photos and flowers to candles and their favorite meals.

“We're excited to have everybody here,” Rojo said. “We have Aztec dancers from San Luis Rey, and they’re doing some blessings of the altars.”

The event included a stacked lineup of live entertainment, including performances by Mariachi Zapopan de San Diego, Los Gringos Muertos Band, the Smooth Groove Band, Ballet Folklorico Grupo Jaliscience and La Colonia native and rapper "Lil" Rob.

Traditional and colorful Mexican- and indigenous-heritage performances celebrated the community's culture, while dog costume and face-mask contests, merchandise and food booths, kids activities, and skateboard demonstrations by the Skatepark Project entertained crowds.

Rojo said the proceeds from sales go back into the community through the La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation to invest in the neighborhood’s next 100 years.

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