Home News Grand Park Kicks Off 9th Annual Dia de los Muertos – NBC Los Angeles
News - October 23, 2021

Grand Park Kicks Off 9th Annual Dia de los Muertos – NBC Los Angeles

Los Angeles’s Grand Park kicks off its 9th annual Dia de los Muertos event Saturday night at 7 p.m., and the event is free for all.

The distinct colors and flowers — orange marigolds — and grand displays went up at Grand Park on Friday.

Ofelia Esparza, the master altar maker, built the biggest of the displays with her daughter. It’s a tradition, but for some, it’s so personal that it’s more of an obligation.

“This is an expression of gratitude and love to honor our loved ones, our ancestors,” Esparza said. “That’s how we kept the memory of our ancestors and relatives alive.”

Esparza learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother — a chain that goes back generations, to Mexico, where the tradition continues thousands of years later.

“We’re honoring the dead, we’re welcoming their souls,” Esparza said. “Our ancestors never leave us, they’re always with us. We are here because of them.”

Ofelia Esparza and her daughter, Rosanna, are part of Self Help Graphics & Art, which started the Day of the Dead altar celebration 48 years ago in their East LA studios.

Now, the celebration is on a much grander scale, for all of Los Angeles to experience.

“It’s cathartic for many people in a very visceral way, in a way of knowing that you’re not alone,” Rosanna Esparza Ahrens said.

Esparza Ahrens calls their altar “Culture, Tradition and Resilience.” It’s a message of hope, particularly now, when so many people have lost so many.

“Everybody experiences loss,” Esparza Ahrens said. “But it’s that knowing, when we mourn, we’re dealing with the loss of the physical connection, but we understand there’s still a heart string that’s still connected.”

At the Dia de los Muertos celebration, the “ofrendas” honor the dead and celebrate life.

Organizers ask that visitors wear masks and social distance before coming out to experience what they have to share at the free event.

“I think for us, the living, it’s a healing process.” Ofelia Esparza said. “We’re not alone. This is a universal idea, concept and celebration.”

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