Last Saturday evening students and local families attended a Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos celebration in Isla Vista’s Anisq’ Oyo’ Park.
The event included carnival games, jugglers, and various craft making activities for children. There were also various Dia de Los Muertos altars on display, with photos of deceased relatives and community figures adorned in the traditional cempasuchil flowers along with offerings of sweet Pan de Muertos, candles and other symbolic art.
Organized by the Isla Vista Recreation and Parks District with help from various UCSB groups such as Associated Students, Hermanas Unidas, fraternities and sororities as well as members of the Isla Vista community, the carnival provided a friendly cooperative atmosphere. The groups hosted various booths and events such as a haunted house, costume contests, and as dark began to fall, a mariachi group augmented the cultural experience with loud happy songs appropriate for Dia De Los Muertos.
Unlike the morbid and ghastly overtones traditionally associated with Halloween, Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos, is a celebration of death and the after life where the memories of the dead are honored with joyous and colorful spectacle. The raucous laughter of the costumed children eating candy and playing in the park seemed oddly out of place in the pandemonium of Isla Vista’s Halloween weekend, but indicated that the community is taking steps to offer alternatives to the weekend’s infamous celebrations. The carnival encouraged community participation and served as a helpful reminder that the students are not the only inhabitants of Isla Vista.