Hanford Multicultural Theater will host the Hanford Dia de Los Muertos at 4 p.m. Nov. 2, at the Hanford Mall.

Decorations are being made, Catrinas (skeletons with elaborate costumes from the 1800s) are being created, and entertainment is in the process of being selected. New this year to Hanford is Lety Valencia known as the Catrina de Visalia. She is a spectacularly dressed Catrina who reigns over the crowd in stilts. A unique sight not to be missed.

Along with the event, the community can participate with celebrating the life of a loved one who has passed with a dedicated altar/ofrenda. It is usually a decorated table with pictures, flowers, and articles that the loved one enjoyed. If you saw the Disney film "Coco," the family had an altar to remember their grandmother. In fact, most of the movie was about remembering loved ones that had passed on.

A couple of years ago for this event, I made an altar for my brother who was in the military. I placed pictures of him in uniform and little toy soldiers next to it. I also put a small heater and a toy air conditioner as heating and cooling was his occupation. I also put a toy motorcycle to represent his favorite mode of transportation. I even put a fresh In-N-Out burger on the altar since it was his favorite meal.

Why is HMTC absorbed with such an event every year? Inspiration came when examining the roots of another Dia de Los Muertos event in Florida. A puppeteer, depressed about the passing of some relatives became fascinated with the Aztec/Mexican tradition. It resonated with him profoundly that he found fellow puppeteers to organize a puppet parade to commemorate the event every Nov. 2.  Ten years later it has grown to a gargantuan event with a multitude of activities and is now a big attraction in Fort Lauderdale.  

The creator of the Fort Lauderdale Dia de Los Muertos is Jim Hammond. He is of Polish descent and remembers his mother telling him about Polish families visiting cemeteries on All Souls Day to honor loved ones. He connected with the Latino version of Dia de Los Muertos and realized that Poland and Mexico were not the only countries that made a celebration of some sort to remember loved ones who have passed on. Many countries have a day to remember loved ones. In other words, it is multicultural.

HMTC started this event in Hanford in 2017. This year it will be held at the Hanford Mall with entertainment, vendors, an exhibit of a dozen Catrinas, altars, and more.

If you are interested in a vendor or altar opportunity at this event, call us at 559-997-3838 or do an online application at www.HanfordDiadeLosMuertos.com.

Silvia Gonzalez Scherer is the Executive Artistic Director and co-founder of HMTC.

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