The Fullerton College quad came alive on Thursday night as students, faculty, dancers and guests filled the normally quiet grassy courtyard as the ethnic studies department put on its annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration.
Around 1,200 guests were in attendance as students from Amber González and Gerald Padilla’s ethnic studies courses, along with participation from MEChA, The Latina Leadership Network and STOMP, built colorful ofrendas. Padilla’s class was giving away plates of food to the hungry guests.
“It’s an outstanding student and community event that enhances the academic atmosphere and celebrates the colorful life here at Fullerton College,” Padilla said.
Entertainment was provided by Esther Franco’s Ballet Folklorico group. The dancers ranged from 10 to 16 years old.
Music was provided by disc jockey’s Chris Pino and Jess Cruz. They spun music with latin flare and some top 40 hits, never letting the mood become dull.
Jazmine Quijano, an alumna of Fullerton College, danced with a traditional Aztec group.
“I’m glad I could come back here and celebrate this holiday with my dances.” Quijano said.
Attendees could have their faces painted like a calavera, or a sugar skull, for a donation to the campus club, MEChA. The club set up a face painting booth on the patio outside the 200 building where they requested $2 donations or a canned food item from guests, in exchange for having half or all of their face painted.
Wilson Lei, a pre-nursing major and face painter at the MEChA table, offered up his chalk art skills and switched it up for face paint and brushes for the evening.
“The money raised here will be divided into gift cards and given to people just before Thanksgiving so they can provide a meal for their families.” Lei said.
Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican holiday based on thousands of years of history dating back to ancient Aztec traditions and influenced by the Spainards in the 1500s. The holiday revolves around building alters, or ofrendas, with images of loved ones who have passed. Gifts of food and small items are placed on the altar which is decorated with flowers, candles and linens.
It is seen as a day to communicate with the dead and entice them back to Earth with beloved items they treasured. Celebrations of prayer and feasting commence around the ofrendas while sharing stories.
All in all, there was no shortage of goodwill and good times Thursday night. The evening was a grand celebration of the holiday.