Day of the Dead Comes Alive At Hollywood Forever Cemetery
November 9, 2023
As I walked up to the marigold covered front gate of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, I could hear the beat of traditional drums and smell the alluring scents and couldn't wait to get inside. Once in, there were many altars surrounding the entrance and beyond. The diversity of the ofrendas, or altars, was extraordinary. Some were for individual people and loved ones, including pets, and some were for organizations and unique themes and one had a living person in the altar. As I walked down the busy path I was greeted with many more wondrous scents and vibrant colors and characters. All around there were statues and figures of skeletons in big dresses with beautifully decorated faces. At most altars, there were many people that had copal incense burning to attract the spirits.
It is hard to pick a favorite, but a few did stand out to me. One was a beautiful altar by Marcus Pollitz. Marcus's altar was dedicated to those who had died in biking accidents. At the top was a magnificent statue of a cyclist, and below were many pictures of those who had died, their favorite snacks, their helmets decorated, bottles of water, and bicycle bells with people's names on them that you could ring. This is Marcus's third time at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and it took him about three months for him to set up his altar. "Every ofrenda has food for the spirits to come back and of course if you're a bicyclist, water is vital and snack food of all different types." Marcus stated.
Many people were dressed up in long gorgeous dresses with their faces painted to look like skeletons. Another eye-catching memorable one was the Barbie altar, created by Alex Yanez and Myrna O'Shea. Their altar was in the shape of Barbie's Dreamhouse with pictures of their passed on loved ones on the walls inside each room. Next to this, was a set up for pictures which makes you look like you're in a Barbie box. "The reason she chose Barbie (Myrna O'Shea) was because of everything Barbie was "entitled." Like the integration between life and death, the cross over. The Imagination behind just becoming whoever you want and belonging regardless of who you choose to be, and how you are resembled in life and death," says Alex Yanez.
Another great altar was dedicated to Carmen Rocha, who is known for bringing nachos to Los Angeles. Her altar was covered in Mexican food and drink offerings, including nachos of course. Another great one was for all the pets who've passed. Altars not only celebrate people on Day of the Dead, but they celebrate animals too! All of the altars had astonishing pieces to it. Most had marigolds to attract the spirits and all had pictures.
The food there was great too! There were food vendors from all over the city. The watermelon, mango and pineapple aqua frescas were fresh, refreshing and sweet! At other booths were many delicious desserts, like the churros which were the best! They had plenty of beer (which I assure you I didn't have) and so many other options for food! The burritos were astonishing. In the grass area, you could sit down and enjoy a live performance by dancers in alluring traditional costumes and music.
The annual celebration continues to grow. Visitors come from as far away as Seattle WA and some of the artists came from Oaxaca Mexico. Next year will be the 25th year of the event. The Day of the Dead festivities at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery were so enjoyable! I had a great time with my parents and can't wait for this event to come back next year!