By Imari Rede
The cool fall breeze carried the aroma of fresh cooked corn, bacon wrapped hot dogs and cleansing sage during Riverside’s annual Day of the Dead festival.
On Nov. 4, Market street in downtown Riverside was a centerpoint of celebration for one of the largest Mexican holidays.
The streets were lined with vendors, food carts, dancers and couples dressed as La Catrina and El Catrin, the Mexican emblems of life and death.
People of all ages came together to honor the dead by creating altars, eating food, sharing art and celebrating with music.
Ballet Folklorico de Riverside sponsored “Color a Calavera” in the kid’s zone where children and families colored their own skull masks.
As the sun set, altars lit the walkway in White Park. It was home to several altars ranging from a huge community altar that was covered with golden marigolds, flickering lights and index cards covered in prayers and memories for lost loved ones, to smaller altars that remembered Riverside locals.
“Riverside gives people like me who have lost their loved ones a chance to celebrate the lives of their lost ones,” said Yvonne Padilla-Martinez, mother of two late Riverside locals. “It’s a big platform to share with everyone that knew them.”
Her altar honored her two sons, James Martinez, who was 21 when he was shot by Corona police, and Jacob Martinez who was 34 when he suffered a brain aneurysm on the way to work.
“They were both underground hip-hop artists,” Padilla-Martinez said. “Jacob also did murals and a lot of work including art for Inconsiderate Skate Shop.”
Moving beyond the lines of our city limits, Erika Paz represented The City of Dead Dreams, a group that gives visibility to families that have lost loved ones while having been detained.
“We are here bringing awareness that people are dying for lack of medical care,” Paz said.
Adelanto has the largest immigration detention center on the west coast. Three people have died at the immigration detention center from medical complications this year alone.
Vicente Caceres Madariaga is the most recent person to have died in Adelanto Detention
Center. He suffered from acute coronary syndrome which took his life just nine days after being detained.
Riverside City College’s Puente Club also had an altar for the festival. Puente Club member, Maria Moya, was glad to be a part of the festivities as she remembered loved ones with close friends and family.
“I’m glad that Riverside provides this opportunity because there are not many events in the city that represent Latinos,” Moya said.
Riverside’s Day of the Dead festival brings people together to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones with bright colors, delicious food, beautiful art and hip shaking music while giving a voice to the people of our city and beyond to come and celebrate the greatness that life has to offer.