Old Town San Diego's Día de los Muertos
SOHO turns over successful annual celebration to Old Town business community
The elaborate Day of the Dead celebration that Save Our Heritage Organisation initiated in 2010 and developed into an annual regional and national attraction for Old Town San Diego is so successful that the non-profit group is transferring the impresario role to the Old Town business community.
With last year's attendance estimated at 75,000, the colorful, authentic festivities of November 1 and 2 in Old Town have followed and expanded upon the hallowed Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos. It honors deceased loved ones with personal altars, offerings of food, drink, and flowers, and cemetery vigils, all of which are meant to invite ancestors to return to visit the living.
"SOHO has established Old Town's Day of the Dead programs as a meaningful cultural experience and destination event that remains true to its beloved Mexican origins. We've shown how a genuine, large-scale presentation of cultural heritage is economically smart and highly beneficial for a historic area," Alana Coons, SOHO's Director of Education and Communications, said. "Authenticity is essential for a community to retain and strengthen its identity, rather than staging a popular event that could be done by anyone, anywhere."
Rooted in religion and folklore, the Day of the Dead spiritually unites life and death, and is not to be confused with Halloween. However, because Halloween falls on Saturday this year, Old Town's Day of the Dead celebrations will be held October 31-November 2.
The non-profit SOHO is the region's largest and most effective preservation organization and the operator of five museums. SOHO's partnership with Old Town shops, restaurants, and hotels has created a seamless, high quality Day of the Dead event for individuals and families, held indoors and out, day and night, and extending to Old Town San Diego State Park.
Turning over the Day of the Dead management does not mean SOHO is leaving the festive event. As in past years, SOHO will continue to present special altars, live music, and workshops at the two Old Town museums it operates. They are the Adobe Chapel, 3963 Conde Street, where a large backdrop of silk and handmade paper flowers adorn the altar, and a painting of Mexico's revered Virgin of Guadalupe will be on display; and the Whaley House, 2476 San Diego Avenue where, during all three days, there will be live concerts, free and fee based craft workshops, and multiple historically themed altars.
"Our broadening of public awareness and participation in the Day of the Dead celebrations has received tremendous acclaim," said Coons, who launched the massive Day of the Dead events just five years ago.
Coons measures success in the mushrooming attendance and the speed with which non-Latin visitors grasped the Day of the Dead's enduring cultural significance for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Old Town's celebration is the only one in the San Diego region to be held throughout an entire district, albeit one that is walkable, accessible by public transit, and hospitable to hunger, thirst, and shopping for Day of the Dead mementoes large and small.
"While we can expect changes with the new leadership, every effort is being made to keep the growing event as authentic and high-quality as possible," Coons said.
Volunteers are needed to assist the new organization now and during the Day of the Dead weekend. Volunteers, vendors, performers and sponsors should contact Bob Barros at (619) 656-4721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found online at the 2015 website: www.dayofthedeadsd.com