Fullerton College will celebrate its annual Día de los Muertos event on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. in the quad. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the beloved free community event that typically attracts more than 1,000 participants.
Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that remembers the dead by honoring them and celebrating the lives they lived. This is done by making ofrendas, which means offerings in Spanish. Ofrendas are traditionally made by handcrafting altars and embellishing them with the departed’s photos, favorite food, flowers and other mementos that represent them. Altars may also bring awareness to social issues that relate to today’s social and political climate or directly with the lives that were lost.
“It’s really a community event and unbelievably reflective of the diversity at Fullerton College,” said faculty emeritus Gerald Padilla, a co-founder of the Día de los Muertos celebration at Fullerton College.
The event will feature dance performances from an Aztec and a Folkloric dance group, DJ’s, and food surrounded by altars celebrating lives of the past. Community partners and student organizations participating include MEChA, Puente Program, Social Justice Coalition, Queer People of Color, Umoja, Sociology Club, and Psychology Club.
With the 25th anniversary, the quad will be even more colorful and lit up as this year’s event will have about double the ofrendas in the quad than last year’s event, bringing the total ofrendas from 25 to 50. For the first time, there will also be a community centerpiece at the center of the quad. This centerpiece will highlight the Mendez v. Westminster case for its impact of desegregating schools in California and will encourage community participation.
“All around the community centerpiece, we’re going to provide a space for community members to add a photo or a memento of someone that they would like to honor and remember,” said coordinator for this year’s Día de los Muertos Dr. Amber Rose Gonzalez, chair of the Ethnic Studies Department.
Padilla, alongside professors Chris Lamm and Adela Lopez, started the event back in 1994 and has helped run it ever since. Gonzalez now leads this tradition at Fullerton College after Padilla retired last spring.
“I definitely feel honored to be able to carry on this tradition, but this is really a team effort. One of the things I love about this event is that it’s not just a community event, but a community-organized event in that ethnic studies faculty and student are all really participating and making sure the event is a success,” Gonzalez said.
This celebration will be open for students and their families, as well as community members. Parking is free in the student parking lots. For more information, contact Dr. Amber Rose Gonzalez at AGonzalez@fullcoll.edu or follow the Facebook event page.