Adventuring: Fruitvale Dia De Los Muertos Festival

Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls


Today’s adventure was a local one as we headed over the bridge to the Dia De Los Muertos Festival in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.

At the risk of making myself look shallow, I will admit that I am one of those fans of Dia De Los Muertos that loves it mostly for aesthetic reasons. I love the colors, the elaborate skeleton face paint, the look of the alters, the sugar skulls, the witty paper mache dolls, and the bright paper banners. It’s pure beauty.

But maybe because I am getting older, or maybe it’s the mother in me, I find myself increasingly enamored with the sentiment of it all. The idea that for a few nights a year, our deceased loved ones visit us and that we welcome them with alters in their honor, dripping in celebration rather than sadness, to enjoy a visit together. It’s a lovely idea.

It gets better… on Nov 2, the celebration is taken to the cemetery where families hang out with their returning loved ones cleaning their tombs, eating, drinking, playing cards and watching TV all night before sending them off with a song and returning home themselves saturated with love, community, memories and, well… some booze.

Dia De Los Muertos Festival at Fruitvale

Fruitvale Love

Fruitvale Love

Our adventure today was spent wandering the Dia De Los Muertos Festival soaking in great weather and a super fun family-friendly festival right in our backyard. We all gave it thumbs up… Jack and Elise loved the giant slide and their mango shaved ice, Mike enjoyed a taco or three, and I pretty much loved all of it. My favorite favorites being the alters, the Aztec dancers, the live music, my mangonada, and (of course) the beauty of it all…

The kids running this booth were amazing. They were so proud of their art work, and for good reason. I love the idea of using pans as the canvas for these calaveras paintings.

The kids running this booth were amazing. They were so proud of their art work, and for good reason. I love the idea of using pans as the canvas for these calaveras paintings.

The St Jarlath School kids made these amazing sugar skulls and pasta pictures as well.

The St Jarlath School kids made these amazing sugar skulls and pasta pictures as well.

Hamming it up.

Never misses a photo op.

Giant Slide.

Giant Slide. nuff said.

Love and Mango... and a rad tiger shirt.

Love and Mango… and a rad tiger shirt.

Mangonada! SO good.

Mangonada! Mango, Ice, Chamoy… spicy and yum.

Sad truth is that Oakland isn't always this festive.

Sad truth about Oakland.

On the way home we talked about the holiday in more detail. And it got Jack thinking about Kitty, our cat who passed away a little less than a year ago. Jack still misses Kitty a lot. So we decided to celebrate Kitty on this Dia De Los Muertos with an alter built on the backyard grass where kitty loved to stretch out on a sunny day. We pulled together some of his favorite things: some tomatoes & strawberries, comfy blanket, the memorial stone we made when he died, some candles, and our new sugar skulls. Jack carefully placed each of these items on the grass and then we sat and talked about kitty for a few. There were some tears, but we also laughed at how kitty loved to steal and eat our fruit, and what a fun and sweet cat he was and how when he ran his saggy tummy swayed back and forth. Short but sweet, our Dia De Los Muertos memorial ended in laughs and good thoughts.

Kitty Alter - yes, he really did love fruit.

Kitty Alter – yes, he really did love fruit.

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