Remembering loved ones for Day of the Dead

Everyone eventually passes, the Day of the Dead is how we remember those we’ve lost.
Monica Gutierrez and Melissa Garcia constructed an ofrenda to honor Garcias father and Grandmother.
Monica Gutierrez and Melissa Garcia constructed an ofrenda to honor Garcia’s father and Grandmother.
Mel Ayala

Santa Fe Springs hosted their annual Day of the Dead Festival at the scenic Heritage Park where people went to remember and celebrate the lives of their passed loved ones.

The park is a picture-worthy place to host a party with its 19th-century horse and carriage aesthetic. The Day of the Dead festival was a pop of color in the park with its string lights, flowers, papel picado, candles and Mexican artwork and crafts.

The festival featured dancers performing as catrines to classic Mexican songs such as El Son de la Negra, La Llorona and El Jarabe Tapatio. Guests were able to get a drink at the nearby beer garden and watch the show.

On the south side of the park near the old Carriage Barn museum, there was a section dedicated to the community ofrendas. Ofrendas, or altars, are essentially offerings constructed to honor passed loved ones.

Monica Gutierrez and Melissa Garcia were stationed at their table where they set up their altar honoring their father and grandmother.

Their altar was equipped with photos and candles, flowers, rosaries, and more symbolic and personal items such as coffee and chocolates.

On the table was a box of Maxwell House French Vanilla creamer and a mug of coffee. Beside them were two small coxes filled with small candies such as Ande’s chocolates and bite-sized Hershey bars.

“The candies were my dad’s favorite candies and my dad and my grandma were big coffee drinkers,” explained Garcia.

She also mentioned that her grandmother was a very religious woman and that the crosses, the sacred heart candles, and the religious statues are in honor of her life.

The event also created altars for passed celebrities such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Selena, and Chadwick Boseman as some examples.

During the celebration, small businesses set up their pop-up shops to sell Mexican crafts, imported Mexican apparel, crystals, religious items, flowers and other merchandise incorporating the Day of the Dead theme.

However, not everything pertained to the Day of the Dead celebration. Many vendors took the opportunity to set up shop at the event—many of which were inspired by Mexican culture.

One such store was Talavera Nopalera, a shop that sells ceramics, most notably ceramic pots with small cacti and succulents hence the name.

Talavera Nopalera is a small business started by Damian Alvarez. The ceramic pots that carry the plants originate from Guanajuato, Mexico.

The ceramics are then imported and after obtaining them, Alvarez plants his succulents into the pots to later sell them.

His inspiration to turn a hobby into a craft and later a business began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I started during the pandemic. I was bored and I’ve always liked plants and I’ve always liked the art and I just decided to sell it as a hobby,” said Alvarez.

Based in Whittier, Alvarez sets up shop and many pop-ups from city to city, but mostly Los Ángeles. Talavera Nopalera has been in business for three years.

Talavera Nopalera also has an online store on Etsy and Instagram, allowing businesses a broader clientele.

The Day of the Dead festival was a way for people to remember their loved ones and celebrate life and the eventual passing into the afterlife.

Even for those who do not participate in the culture or traditions, it allowed its guests to experience the celebration and even take a bit of Mexico with them.

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