San Rafael’s Day of the Dead Celebrations Go Online

For more than three decades, San Rafael has marked the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with colorful cultural events that bring out the entire community.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, San Rafael’s 32nd annual Dia de los Muertos will be held online and on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook throughout the entire month of October, culminating in a car procession through San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood on November 1.

“Our annual event is such a wonderful coming together of the many diverse members of our community. We didn’t want to lose that during this year that we can’t gather in person,” Catherine John, Chair of the 2020 organizing committee, says in a statement. “Our event’s presence on the web, social media, and live streaming video aims to connect community members in an uplifting and humanizing way. These values are intrinsic to any Day of the Dead celebration.”

San Rafael’s Dia de los Muertos celebration is working together with partners such as the City of San Rafael and the Albert J. Boro Community Center, and the organizing committee is made up of a wide swath of artists, business owners and community members such as Douglas Mundo, Executive Director of the Multicultural Center of Marin.

“This year, we are pleased to welcome our new partners: San Rafael Downtown Business Improvement District, Downtown San Rafael Arts District and Art Works Downtown, among others,” Mundo says in a statement. “Together, we have organized for the entire month of October a series of art workshops, face painting tutorials, and altar displays in local businesses in Downtown San Rafael and the Canal. We will also have cultural presentations, live music and for the first time ever a talent show for local youth.”

Upcoming online highlights of the Day of the Dead celebrations include art workshops, cooking demonstrations, talks and other ceremonies happening every day through October.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, participants will learn how to make ‘Pan de Muerto’ with Mexican-based Chef Ana Garcia of La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation retreat. On Saturday, Oct. 24, Bay Area-based Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno presents a virtual Dia de los Muertos musical performance.

Following that, on Sunday, Oct. 25, traditionally dressed Catrinas (the skeleton figures that symbolizes the Day of The Dead) lead a virtual tour of downtown San Rafael, where local artists are displaying their Day of the Dead altars in storefronts and businesses this month. The next day, Monday, Oct. 26, Ernesto Hernandez Olmos (pictured), a Marin-based artist originally from Oaxaca, leads a workshop on the significance of Day of the Dead altars.

Other virtual highlights of San Rafael’s Dia de los Muertos includes The Center for Domestic Peace in San Rafael hosting a solemn but uplifting ceremony on Oct. 30 to remember the lives lost to domestic violence in the Bay Area this past year. The next day, Oct. 31, Mill Valley’s O’Hanlon Center for the Arts virtually hosts local artist Zoe Harris in a talk about art related to the Day of the Dead.

San Rafael’s Dia de los Muertos concludes on Sunday, November 1 with the festive car procession through the Canal community. The traditionally decorated cars will meet at the Marin County Health & Wellness Center and the car procession will begin at 6:00 pm and will be broadcast live on social media.

Find the San Rafael Dia de los Muertos full schedule of events at dayofthedeadsr.org.

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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