Hundreds of people gather in downtown Bakersfield to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos

Area families celebrate the dead

BAKERSFIELD - Hundreds of people are celebrating the lives of their loved ones who are no longer here.

It’s part of the Bakersfield Museum of Art's annual Altares de Familia.

Many people in Kern County are being exposed to a unique cultural and artistic experience.   Dia de Los Muertos helps educate the community on a long-time tradition that combines food, music and plenty of dancing.

Every year Eva Patino creates a memorial for her mom and dad.

“We have a candle, a picture of the decease.  We have the famous flower,” she said.

Patino is paying tribute to them during Dia de Los Muertos,” a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures.

“It’s just a beautiful way to remember them, what they liked in life, that’s so important because my granddaughters, one is 15 and one is 11, they never got to meet my mom and dad, but they know of them,” she said.

The Bakersfield Museum of Art is helping bring the tradition to Kern County.

Local dancers bless the alters, which is an Aztec costume performed during the day of the dead.  It cleanses the air, pushing the bad spirits away.

“We do it every year.  We started four years ago and it showed to be a very popular event.  The community wanted more culture.  They wanted more things that enrich their lives and so every year we’ve grown and grown and grown,” said Jason Gutierrez of the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

Many people participating in Dia de Los Muertos dressed for the occasion.  Others listened to the music performed by the Kern County Youth Mariachi Foundation and some even decorated their faces to help honor loved ones who have passed.

“The best part for this event especially for us is that we get to dress up a little bit in the costumes we feel best in and we get to do the face painting for Dia de los Muertos, the masks,” said Jorge Laris with the Kern County Youth Mariachi Foundation.

Health providers offered free health screenings to the hundreds of visitors at tonight's celebration.

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