Downey celebrates Fiesta De Las Calaveras


Jonathan Gonzalez

Display of Day of the Dead Art being sold. The bright colors used are common during the Day of the Dead celebration.

Jonathan Gonzalez, Staff Writer

Courage Forward and the Rotary Club of Downey organized a festival outside of the Stonewood Mall on Oct. 26th, to celebrate the Day of the Dead.

The festival was held from 2-10 p.m. and consisted of vendors selling different forms of art pieces such as tiles, backpacks, t-shirts, portraits and much more.

The art being sold and on display consisted of common Day of the Dead traditions like painted skulls, flowers and ofrendas, otherwise known as offerings to the dead. Local Downey businesses also participated in the festival.

Nathan Mahoney, Downey Rotary Club President, spoke on the importance of the event:

“This kind of event is important because it is a way of bringing the community together,” he explained. “In a big city like Downey, coming together and getting to know each other is always a great thing. Courage Forward and the Downey Rotary Club are both non-profit organizations and everything we receive we use to try and give back to our community.”

This celebration was for the whole family to enjoy, and had an area known as The Beer Garden exclusive to those 21 years of age or older. The area was specifically for adults to be able to purchase alcoholic beverages.

The festival also had a section for kids to have fun and show off their creative side by performing in arts and crafts activities. Some activities available were face-painting, coloring day of the dead pages, or painting pumpkins.

Dancers also performed cultural pieces as part of the entertainment for the event. Folklorico was one of the many different types of dances being performed.

The dancers performing were of all ages, and were able to show off a variety of different cultures.

Annette Norwood, senior marketing manager of the Stonewood Center, said, “Anything that brings families together is important. We are able to honor loved ones, which is also important.”

“This event is special because people can learn about Dia de Los Muertos, even if they are not familiar with the traditions,” she added. “Children are able to perform these cultural dances and just being able to have support [by the community] is great.”

Lunch trucks were also part of the festival selling food items such as tacos, burritos, hot dogs, carne asada fries, snow cones, raspados, aguas frescas and more.

Chris Garrido, president of Courage Forward, said, “It is great to have everyone come out and celebrate together. This event brings different cultures, forms of art, cultures and a lot of different people together, which is amazing. It is like a big melting pot for everyone to just come out and have a great time.”

This event was hosted by Courage Forward, the Downey Rotary Club, and the Stonewood Center.

The Fiesta de Las Calaveras event is held annually in Downey and looks to continue with its success in promoting tradition and fun for the community.