“If life must not be taken too seriously then neither must death.”
Finally, the day arrived, the reason for our trip! I was very excited, but we had to wait so first we walked the residential area up the street from our motel that was quite nice. After an early lunch, we changed into our traditional Mexican clothing and took the #207 bus to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!
Yes, it filled the entire cemetery! And note a unique feature of this final resting place for the dead: it isn't quiet because they show movies, have concerts, etc... in an area kept free of graves, the zone on the lower right behind the "cathedral art exhibit". Very neat!
Everything was decorated! Here's the entrance gate! And only AFTER our cemetery tour the next day was it pointed out that you can see the famous Hollywood sign through the arch! Really? Yup, there it is! I didn't even know it was in my photo until I got home and looked for it!
And what was there to see? Well, we arrived before 1:00 and stayed until about 7:00 and never stopped moving!
First we enjoyed the ofrendas, or altars to welcome the returning souls...
The variety and imagination, craftsmanship and creativity were beyond belief and way beyond expectation! Each was unique, each had a story to tell!
There was love, an eternal wedding cake. And there was sorrow and frustration, obvious in this ofrenda dedicated to someone who died a victim of crime.
There was color everywhere, bright marigolds and papel picados (paper banners) everywhere. Whimsical and mysterious spirits in paper maché were represented on many alters.
We were lucky to have come early in the afternoon while there was still room to move! Little did we realize how crowded it would later become!
It was time to find a shady spot on this 84F day to rest a bit...
At 2:30 there was a lavish procession! Spirits in incredibly wildly colorful costumes danced about and a coffin led the way, followed by one lonely soul. Then a parade of traditional costumed groups, Aztec and Mexican with a multitude of calaveras and Catarinas!
Here's a short video to give you a sense of what it was like to be there.
The procession led to the main stage and there the Aztec dancers opened the celebration with a traditional dance and (I'm not exactly sure of the meaning here but) the guardian of the cemetery opened the doors between the worlds: the spirits were free to join us!
Look at how many people in the crowd are in face paint and wearing flowers! We figured about 40% of the attendees were in costume one way or another!
Throughout the day, various performances took place on the three stages. It was impossible to see everything!