In honor of Dia de los Muertos and the nearly 900 San Diegans who have died due to COVID-19, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, will hold a Day of the Dead ceremony Sunday at the County Administration Center.
Dia de los Muertos is a Meso-American tradition observed annually on November 1 and 2 to honor those who have died. The Altar de Muertos is traditionally decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of those who passed away, sugar skulls and other items of remembrance. Outside of Mexico, in other Spanish-speaking countries, it is also known as Dia de los Muertos.
"As our Latino community deals with such significant and disproportionate losses during this pandemic, it's so important that we celebrate the lives of those who we have lost," Gonzalez said. "The COVID-19 Altar de Muertos will allow us to safely honor our loved ones who have passed away due to COVID-19, while reminding everyone of the cost that our community specifically has paid during this pandemic."
More than 229,000 Americans have died since March because of the coronavirus.
San Diegans who lost a family member or friend to COVID-19 were invited to submit the name of their loved-one(s) along with a picture to Fletcher's office so it could be included on the COVID-19 Altar de Muertos. The altar, or ofrenda, will be erected near the east entrance of the County Administration Center and remain up through Monday.
"The COVID-19 Altar de Muertos is our way of remembering those we have lost to this horrible virus,'' said Fletcher, co-chair of the county's COVID-19 Subcommittee. "It provides an opportunity to reflect on the effect COVID-19 has had on all communities, but we should be paying special attention to the disproportionate impact it has made on Black, Brown and other communities of color. Every death because of COVID counts. Every life lost to COVID matters. It is now time to rededicate ourselves to protecting one another by taking the actions needed to slow the spread," he said.
A group of residents from the City Heights neighborhood partnered with Fletcher and Gonzalez to help set-up the ofrenda. Other partners and supporters of this ceremony include Consulado General de Mexico en San Diego and San Diego Latino Health Coalition.
The ceremony at 5:30 p.m. to dedicate the COVID-19 Altar de Muertos will be live-streamed.
A county Dia de los Muertos Festival -- not connected to the COVID-19 event -- will begin at 1 p.m. and will feature regional dance performances, a cultural storytime and a "how-to" arts and crafts workshop.
The online celebration -- put on by San Diego County's Parks and Recreation Department -- will also feature a virtual tour of the Rancho Guajome Adobe. It will take place on the County Park's YouTube channel. The festivities will be conducted in English and Spanish.
Craft kits that participants can use to take part in the virtual crafts workshop are available to be picked up free of charge -- with $4 donations appreciated -- at eight different county parks/community centers during regular park hours: Fallbrook Community Center, Heritage County Park, Lakeside Community Center, Rancho Guajome Adobe, San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center, Spring Valley Community Center, Sweetwater Summit Regional Park and the San Diego Waterfront Park.