By Brenda Rincon,
COACHELLA, Calif. – On a 110-degree afternoon, it is hard to think about November 2.
But that is exactly what the Día de los Muertos planning committee has been doing all summer in the air-conditioned lobby of Forest Lawn Funeral Home.
Mariachi, Aztec dancers, altars honoring the dead, rosaries, flowers, guest speakers – these are a few of the things the committee has in store for the inaugural Día de los Muertos Celebration at Coachella Valley Cemetery.
“There has never been such an event in the east side of the valley, this will be the first,” said Ernesto Rosales, manager of Forest Lawn’s Indio and Coachella offices. “This helps folks continue celebrating the traditions from Mexico.”
The idea was first introduced by the funeral home, which has held similar events in other communities, but it quickly attracted the attention of various community groups.
“It is no longer a Forest Lawn event,” says Mateo Gomez, grief support coordinator for the funeral home. “It is now the Coachella community’s event.”
The planning committee now includes representatives from Raices Cultura, Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church, Victory Outreach Church, Coachella Chamber of Commerce, Coachella Valley Mexican American Chamber of Commerce, and local media outlets.
The committee hopes to attract 2,500 people to the event and make it an annual tradition at the sole Eastern Coachella Valley cemetery.
“At the end of the day, this is an opportunity for people to honor their loved ones,” said Rosales.
The Día de los Muertos committee meets again on Monday, September 10, at 5:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn’s Coachella office, 51990 Jackson Street. Community members and groups interested in participating in the event are asked to contact Rosales at [email protected] or (760) 574-7979.