Dia de los Muertos Celebration drawing some controversy in Bakersfield

Dia de los Muertos Celebration drawing some controversy in Bakersfield »Play Video
The letter written to the Bakersfield Californian was revealing. Referring to a celebration/contest of Dia de los Muertos--Day of the Dead--at Greenlawn Southwest Mortuary, the letter writer wrote:

"I do not appreciate our local cemeteries being used as a venue for some voodoo ceremony that's practiced in some third-world country like Mexico," wrote Nora Virrey.

The annual celebration honors the dead. Families may gather at cemeteries, take food, drinks, favorite items of the deceased to share
along with music. Instead of mourning, it's a festive atmosphere to recall the life of the dead person.

"It's about honoring all the people who have died in our families, our community, whether it be yesterday, last week or 100 years ago," said
Bakersfield resident Cruz Ramos.

Ramos has been organizing Dia de los Muertos celebrations since her father died in 1995. She started at St. Augustine Church in Lamont. The event grew so quickly, she ran out of space. She moved the event to what is now Golden State Mall. But here, too crowds have been growing.

So this year, on November 2ND, she is planning to hold the event at the Nile Theater in downtown Bakersfield. The event is free and runs from 6pm to 9pm, with an art exhibit beginning at noon.

Ramos says those not familiar with Dia de los Muertos may react out of ignorance, thinking it's a some sort of voodoo ritual.

"People do get the wrong idea. It's not like "return of the living dead" you know. It's about love and honor of that person that left us," said Ramos.

Dia de los Muertos is observed on November 1 and 2. November 1 is known as "Dia de los Angelitos" or Day of the Little Angels in honor of children who have died.

November 2 is observed for adults.