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Celebrating Life on ‘Day of the Dead’

At sundown Saturday, revelers hope to waken the dead and entice them from their graves for a night of music and merrymaking.

To celebrate the Mexican holiday El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a 12-foot-high skeleton, Aztec and Mexican dancers and floats bearing coffins and surrealistic graveyard scenes will lead a noisy, colorful parade around the Oxnard College campus and nearby streets.

Everyone can join the procession, organizer Javier Gomez said.

“This is a unique cultural event that blends the pre-Columbian cultures with the Christian influence into a mixture that reaffirms life while showing respect for the deceased.”

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Those who come are invited to bring a candle, noisemakers and photographs, as well as the favorite food or drink of a departed loved one. These items, along with written messages, can be placed on an altar after the parade.

Gomez encouraged people to wear masks, preferably handmade ones that “capture the spirit of who you are, your own idiosyncrasies.”

A mask-making workshop is scheduled for Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Oxnard College, room PE-2. The parade will begin at 6 p.m. at Mar Vista Elementary School, 2382 Etting Road, pass the Japanese cemetery and then will circle Oxnard College.

On campus, dance and theater groups will perform on the south lawn beginning at 6:45 p.m. The audience is advised to bring blankets to sit on.

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El Dia de los Muertos events are free and are sponsored jointly by the California Arts Council, the Ventura County Multicultural Arts Council and local agencies.

This is the eighth annual celebration in the county.

For more information, call 486-7468.

“It’s a time to rejoice with lost loved ones,” said Gomez, “not with tears but in memory of the joy you had with them.”


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