A Día de los Muertos themed caravan drove through the neighborhoods of Long Beach Saturday, organized by the Washington Neighborhood Association and co-sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Los Angeles.
According to Erin Rank, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, this is the organization’s third year partnering with Washington Middle School, which is part of the Washington Neighborhood Association who co-sponsored the event.
Rank said that in previous years, Día de los Muertos was celebrated with community dances and altars, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, had to change how the holiday was celebrated.
She said that they hoped the event would bring the Long Beach community some joy.
“I know people have been in their homes for quite a long period of time and remind them that community residents are here to support them,” Rank said.
Participants parked their cars at Washington Middle School to decorate their cars with streamers, paper flowers and cut outs of sugar skulls.
Thelma Valenzuela, manager of Individual Giving for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, performed while participants arrived at the school.
“The community has been so fantastic,” Valenzuela. “We still wanted to do something.”
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, begins on Oct. 31 and ends on Nov. 2. The Mexican holiday is celebrated globally and invites families and friends to honor loved ones who have died.
The caravan featured fewer than 15 cars, driven by Long Beach residents and Washington Middle School teachers.
One of those teachers was Lina Martinez. She said that she normally celebrated Día de los Muertos by making altars at home. This year, she wanted to participate to send a message to her students and community.
“We’re here for you,” Martinez said. “We miss you.”