Dia de Los Muertos Art and Music Festival in Uptown Whittier

Uptown Whittier was filled with altars, vendors, food trucks, performers, face painters, with live music and a car show.

Casita del Pueblo’s annual Dia de Los Muertos Art and Music Festival brimmed the streets of uptown Whittier, Sunday October 15.

From 10-6 p.m. the uptown area of Whittier was bustling with thousands of people honoring those who have died.  Participants savored the event’s festivities, sampled sounds, visuals and tastes of the holiday. Some of the more prominent events featured was the tribute car show, Danza Azteca performers as well as the Catrin/Catrina Contest.

 Local car clubs were donned with altars and each cars’ age varied with style and model. They were also decorated as bases for personal altars.

The Aztec dance performers (Azteca dancers) officially started off the event by announcing the purpose of Los Muertos and blessing the area. A pathway of marigolds (cempasuchitl) lined Greenleaf St. as well as a section of Bright St. (their performance pathway).

Meanwhile, the Catrin contest drew several participants. Catrin being the a expression of the tradition of honoring the dead. A Los Muertos icon, which developed in 1910.

Yolanda Garcia runs the Casita del Pueblo, translates to the House of the village. They sell artwork, handcrafted jewelry, latino themed merchandise, clothing, statues and more.

The 13th anniversary of the store was this year; a space made when Garcia worked as a 5th grade teacher. She wanted to cultivate a cultural space where her students could share their art.

Garcia stated that,

“I think when we have events like this (Los Muertos) I feel also empowered not only personally, but by the empowerment of the businesses.”


When Garcia put together her first altar (alongside the first year of being open) her store window had eggs thrown at it.

She brushed off the discouragement and saw through it to see the positive response she eventually received from the community. 

Soon the event grew bigger, from what began as a simple gallery opening, had by the fourth year, taken over bright street, leading to last Sunday’s event being over ten blocks with thousands of people. She feels that the event is,“An opportunity to create dialogue to bring cultural relevance and the acceptance of people and new business.”

Dia de los muertos is a cultural latino tradition which, at its core, is a celebration of the deceased life, death and the cycle of which all passes through.

They have celebration in the middle of october, rather than during the actual holiday, to promote the awareness of the celebration and to prep those for the upcoming holiday.

The store has worked with Disney Pixar, REACH, Nickelodeon, and featured in a National Geographic article on Latino culture.

Day of the Dead 2018 in the U.S. is on Wednesday October 31, ending on Friday, November 2. For more content from the event, search using the hashtag Losmuertosuptown.

The print version of this article appeared Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Editors Note: This article has been given minor edits before re-posting.