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Day of the Dead events in Sonoma County honor lost loved ones

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DAY OF THE DEAD

Corazon Healdsburg Dia de los Muertos Celebration: 1-7 p.m. at Healdsburg Plaza. Feel free to bring offerings for loved ones who have died. The free event includes live music, dancing and children’s activities, with beer, wine and food for sales. corazonhealdsburg.org.

El Dia de Los Muertos Petaluma candlelight procession: 4 p.m. Saturday at 100 Petaluma Blvd. N.; ends at Petaluma Historical Museum, 20 Fourth St., Petaluma. Giant puppets, live music, Ballet Folklorico, Aztec dancers, food, art, children’s activities and more. facebook.com/El-Dia-de-los-Muertos-Petaluma-154451587898565

Occidental Center for the Arts will present “Community Sing”: With a capella Threshold Choir in observance from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Original songs from around the world, storytelling and an ancestor altar. Donations welcome. 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental. 707-874-9382, occidentalcenterforthearts.org

“Viva Los Muertos!”: 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Windsor Town Green. Includes blessing and drum ceremony, procession around the green with dancers, musicians, giant puppets; low rider car show, mariachi music, costume competition, food vendors. Alcohol-free, family-friendly event. McClelland Drive and Market Street, Windsor. windsor-bloco.org/muertos

The Dia de los Muertos observance at Old Courthouse Square: In downtown Santa Rosa creates sacred space for remembrance from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. next Wednesday and Thursday. Alcohol-free event. santarosadiadelosmuertos.org.

The History Museum of Sonoma County’s Día de los Muertos exhibit of ofrendas (altars): In the styles of Oaxaca and Michoacán, continues through Nov. 30 in museum mezzanine gallery. Includes art by Peter Perez, Martín Zúñiga, Mario Uribe, John Pashilk, Rubén Guzmán and tribute to Frida Kahlo by Liz Camino-Byers. Also juried artwork by students in the fifth through 12th grades from museum’s Memory Portrait competition, conducted in partnership with Windsor Muertos. Art by Peter Perez includes efforts of students from Community Action Partnership, museum volunteers. Museum hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 707-579-1500, museumsc.org

Tragedy creates a need for emotional release and healing, and over the past 3,000 years or so, Hispanic culture has evolved an mechanism for meeting those needs.

It’s called El Dia de los Muertos, an annual observance meant to remember and cherish loved ones that we’ve lost. In the wake of the North Bay wildfires, which claimed 42 lives and displaced tens of thousands, the timing seems opportune this year.

“Death does not discriminate, and the fire did not discriminate. This is something we all have in common,” said Luz Navarette, one of the founders of Santa Rosa’s Dia de los Muertos event in Courthouse Square, now in its 17th year.

“This tradition is celebrated Nov. 1 and 2 for families to honor their loved ones who have crossed over,” said Navarette, 66, a retired Santa Rosa Junior College counselor. Plenty of Latino families still celebrate Halloween in the usual way with costumes, candy and trick-or-treating on Oct. 31, but the two days that follow take on a different tone.

Families are invited to bring mementos of loved ones to place on a communal altar, and share their stories and memories. The event returns to Old Courthouse Square next Wednesday and Thursday after a one-year hiatus because of the renovation of the square last year.

Other Dia de los Muertos celebrations around the county this weekend include candlelight processions and festivals with live music, dancing and food.

The Courthouse Square event began in 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people and included the destruction of the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

“We started this right after 9/11,” Navarette said. “I lost a niece in the one of towers.”

Though the circumstances are very different, Santa Rosa community activist Omar Medina, 38, a co-founder of the Courthouse Square event, sees a parallel between 9/11 and the North Bay fires. “The fires took me back to our very first year in 2001. The Day of the Dead offered an opportunity for people to grieve in one sense, for everything that had happened, and to create community and an opportunity for people to come together and talk about loss,” Medina said.

“This is another opportunity to look back at what we’ve lost and at how we should remember it and try to make something positive out of it,” he added.

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

DAY OF THE DEAD

Corazon Healdsburg Dia de los Muertos Celebration: 1-7 p.m. at Healdsburg Plaza. Feel free to bring offerings for loved ones who have died. The free event includes live music, dancing and children’s activities, with beer, wine and food for sales. corazonhealdsburg.org.

El Dia de Los Muertos Petaluma candlelight procession: 4 p.m. Saturday at 100 Petaluma Blvd. N.; ends at Petaluma Historical Museum, 20 Fourth St., Petaluma. Giant puppets, live music, Ballet Folklorico, Aztec dancers, food, art, children’s activities and more. facebook.com/El-Dia-de-los-Muertos-Petaluma-154451587898565

Occidental Center for the Arts will present “Community Sing”: With a capella Threshold Choir in observance from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Original songs from around the world, storytelling and an ancestor altar. Donations welcome. 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental. 707-874-9382, occidentalcenterforthearts.org

“Viva Los Muertos!”: 4-8 p.m. Sunday at Windsor Town Green. Includes blessing and drum ceremony, procession around the green with dancers, musicians, giant puppets; low rider car show, mariachi music, costume competition, food vendors. Alcohol-free, family-friendly event. McClelland Drive and Market Street, Windsor. windsor-bloco.org/muertos

The Dia de los Muertos observance at Old Courthouse Square: In downtown Santa Rosa creates sacred space for remembrance from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. next Wednesday and Thursday. Alcohol-free event. santarosadiadelosmuertos.org.

The History Museum of Sonoma County’s Día de los Muertos exhibit of ofrendas (altars): In the styles of Oaxaca and Michoacán, continues through Nov. 30 in museum mezzanine gallery. Includes art by Peter Perez, Martín Zúñiga, Mario Uribe, John Pashilk, Rubén Guzmán and tribute to Frida Kahlo by Liz Camino-Byers. Also juried artwork by students in the fifth through 12th grades from museum’s Memory Portrait competition, conducted in partnership with Windsor Muertos. Art by Peter Perez includes efforts of students from Community Action Partnership, museum volunteers. Museum hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 707-579-1500, museumsc.org

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