Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that is celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2. The holiday has taken hold in the U.S. and altars to remember dead loved ones have been set up throughout San Diego County.
One of the larger celebrations took place in City Heights on Saturday. Organizers took advantage of the community event and hosted a vaccination clinic at Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park.
Hundreds of people enjoyed traditional Aztec dancers, a mariachi band and a lowrider car show. The event revolved around 30 exquisitely decorated altars to honor dead relatives. The altars were decorated with flowers, candles, food, photos and other mementos.
“Every little stand, it makes you feel some sort of way. I don’t know it’s very touching,” said Yadira Jacinto, a San Diego resident.
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Jacinto sent up an altar for her late husband, Ernesto Murrieta. Murrieta died last year in a car crash at the age of 29.
“I felt like it would be something really nice for my kids especially for our two-year-old,” said Jacinto. “She’s obviously not going to meet him so I think it would be a great thing to do to remember him."
This year, Rosario Martinez and her two sisters set up an altar for their father who died last Christmas Eve.
“We felt like it was really important not only my father but my mother who passed away 25 years ago, as well as aunts and uncles, some who passed away during COVID as well,” said Martinez.
While families reflected on those lost, a few feet away people were receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. One hundred and fifty vaccines were available during Saturday’s clinic.
“I really urge everyone here if you haven’t been vaccinated or you don’t have your booster yet, please do so,” said San Diego Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera as he spoke to a crowd.
“It doesn’t just affect you. It’s about your family, it’s about your community,” said Elo-Rivera.
A special vigil was scheduled for 7 p.m. to remember the victims of COVID-19.