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Santa Barbara Honors the Dead with Día de Los Muertos Community Day

Santa Barbara Bowl festivities feature live music, dance and community-made altars for family, friends, celebrities and historical events

Those attending Día de los Muertos Community Day at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday had to pass under depictions of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Click to view larger
Those attending Día de los Muertos Community Day at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday had to pass under depictions of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Even though the multiday Día de los Muertos ended Nov. 2, Santa Barbara continued celebrating the Day of the Dead through the weekend.

On Sunday, families turned out at the Santa Barbara Bowl for Día de los Muertos Community Day and live music, dance, artist- and community-made altars and, of course, face painting.

The event came a day after the bowl’s fourth annual Day of the Dead celebration, a concert headlined by Morrissey, the front man of the 1980s British rock band The Smiths.

The Mexican holiday honors family and friends who have died with festivals and celebrations.

Sunday’s event, held in the intimate Jerry Garcia Glen space at the bowl, featured a number of elaborately decorated altars dedicated to those who have passed.

It was a big year for celebrity deaths, said Nicole Alejandra Pierpont, the creative director and curator of the community day. Included among the altars were David Bowie albums, photos of Prince and boxing gloves commemorating Muhammad Ali.

Also among the memorialized were Latin American human rights and environmental activists and 43 students who were kidnapped in Iguala, Mexico, in 2014 and are widely presumed to be dead.

The community day is the creation of Pierpont, who grew up in Central America from age 8 to 18 and was born on the Day of the Dead.

“When I came here, I found a bunch of boxes full of my grandmother’s old things,” she said. “She had all these art books and these dolls and all these different things she left to me with notes about Mexico and about her love for Mexico.

“I just became really interested and very fascinated in this part of my background that I just wasn’t very connected to.”

After learning more about her heritage and Día de los Muertos, a friend who worked at the Santa Barbara Bowl invited her to put on her first installation four years ago.

This year, organizations like the Coalition Against Gun Violence and Nuclear Age Peace Foundation had their own altars.

Providing the afternoon’s music and dance entertainment was a local and Southern California lineup of professional and youth performers with Grupo Bella, Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles, Franklin Elementary School Folklorico, Mariachi Monarcas and Everybody Dance Now! Santa Barbara.

“I really wanted a few days before the election to just bring a little focus to some causes and some things that maybe sometimes we feel uncomfortable talking about — to bring some humor into it and some creativity,” Pierpont said.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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