Crowds gathered Wednesday in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park to celebrate a family-oriented and sober Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.
The event, organized by the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District, UCSB Associated Students and the IV/UCSB Liaison’s office, featured bands Area 51 and The Lost Caravan, as well as a performance by the theater group Boxtales. Carnival games, craft tables, pumpkin carving and a costume contest offered entertainment for the children during the celebration.
Traditional altars were placed in the park and were adorned with flowers, candles, sugar skulls and pictures which paid homage to the deceased in observance of Dia de los Muertos, a Latin American holiday, most widely celebrated in Mexico. The altars were topped with crowns of paper flowers as well as “pan de muerto” – bread of the dead.
“There’s an altar for the students that have passed away – and there’s one for community activists. There’s one over there for the people who died in New York – but not just in New York, also the people who died in Washington, and the people who are dying in Afghanistan,” A.S. external vice president Ana Rizo said.
Many of the altars were dedicated to specific individuals, but altars were available for anyone wishing to pay respects, El Congresso member Koskakuat Mikiztli said.
“These altars are personal ones for mostly the Latino families who reserved them. The ones that are blank are for anyone to use them as their own,” he said.
Elisabel Avila, junior business economics and Spanish major, and member of Hermanas Unidas, said her organization volunteered its time in order to celebrate with the families of Isla Vista.
“It’s about helping out the families. It’s not just college students in Isla Vista. They are still part of this community,”she said. “Our organization is about community service – it’s one of the pillars. So our funds go to events like this. We did this last year as well.”
Local community members helped children make Halloween decorations and costume accessories at an arts and crafts table in the park.
“We’re making wands and ghosts and crowns and spiders,” Angela Lang, an IVRPD volunteer, said.
“I’m working at the arts and crafts table because I thought it would be fun to be a useful part of my community,” Hempwise owner Al Espino said.
Anne Aziz, Recreation Coordinator, said this festival is the best one she has seen in her six years of attendance.
“I think this is the best one. There’s lots of fun stuff to do. There’s a good variety, like face painting, tattoos, and hat making, and it’s all free,” she said. “The Dia de los Muertos is mostly for families. It’s for developing cultural awareness.”
Junior undeclared major Ben White said the event offered a wonderful alternative to drinking on Halloween.
“It’s a good place for everyone who doesn’t want to get drunk,” he said. “It’s a good, friendly atmosphere. Everyone’s out here to have a good time.”