Community members came out to Blakley Hall on Saturday, Nov. 3, for the Issaquah Latino Club’s annual Day of the Dead event.
Featuring a handmade altar, various tables for kids crafts and activities, and a potluck dinner prepared by community members, the event was seemingly a huge hit. The Day of the Dead, or Dia De Los Muertos, is a traditional Mexican holiday where people celebrate and honor the lives of loved ones who have died.
Alicia Spinner, founder of the Latino club and editor of the Issaquah Schools Foundation magazine Cultural Connections, said the community event initially was held at her home with just a few decorations. Over time her neighbors and other community members started getting involved leading Spinner and another community member to trade off hosting the event at their homes every other year. Eventually the number of attendees were too great and the house was no longer a big enough venue.
After three years, Spinner contacted Christy Gerrard, executive director of the Issaquah Highlands council, to ask if they could use Blakely Hall as the location for a community Day of the Dead event. Blakely Hall has been the event’s location event since.
Selen Soto-Gonzalez, an Issaquah resident contributed to the event this year by designing the altar where photos of family members who have died were displayed. She explained the various different elements that go into the design and the cultural significance of the altar itself. Food, drinks and other items were placed around the altar as tribute to the dead.
Soto-Gonzalez said the event fosters cultural connections not just with the community but with the people who have died. Events like the Day of the Dead connect people with their cultural traditions and those traditions connect families by remembering and honoring the lives of the people who have died.