23rd annual Día de los Muertos celebration kicks off at Hollywood Forever

One day before the 23rd annual Día de los Muertos event at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, crews put the finishing touches on the stages and altars.

The event returns to the cemetery on Saturday, October 29 with unique daytime and evening events. The event will feature a children's plaza and cultural performances as well as altars, art exhibitions, folklorico dance, traditional dance, arts and crafts, and several vendors.

"This year, we have a beautiful theme. It's Mayahuel. She's the goddess of Mezcal, which is maguey [a cactus plant native to Mexico]. She's also the goddess of love and fertility," said Adela Marquez, the co-founder of the event.

Día de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1 and November 2.

"As long as we remember them [people who passed away], they will never die so we need to bring them back every year in our hearts and spirits and just remember our loved ones always so that they won't really die," said Adela Marquez, the co-founder of the event in Hollywood.

The Marquez sisters have brought the event to life at the cemetery every Saturday before November 2.

"It came together 23 years ago here in Hollywood. We were both born and raised in Mexico. We're immigrants and we were privileged to actually have this tradition firsthand and we wanted to bring it to people who couldn't go back and forth like us," said Deisy Marquez.

Deisy said there is a special focus on children this year.

"This year we're adding a stage for them [children]. We teach them through history and rituals. We teach them about the altars with art and puppeteers. We really want them to embrace it and love it," said Deisy.

Several friends, families and colleagues gathered Friday, one day ahead of the event, to put the finishing touches on their altars, honoring their ancestors who have passed away.

"My inspiration was my older sister, Janet. She's up there on the altar. She inspired me to do the altar because it's a tradition she brought to our Mexican family," said Cynthia Jimenez.

Jimenez said there are several of her ancestors represented on her altar.

"They're my grandparents, my uncle, my aunts from my mom and dad's side of the family and also friends. My friends are here and we've incorporated their family members, so it keeps growing. It's a day to commemorate them, remember them with all the things they loved to do," said Jimenez.

Jaime Najera also made a special altar.

"We have been working day by day for six to eight hours because we made everything by hand. It's about remembering all the people who are not with us anymore and representing them. From my perspective, it's sharing with everyone a big part of Mexican culture," said Najera.

Najera spoke about what his altar, titled Memorias, represents.

"In here, we have people who passed away from AIDS, and also from the last two years from COVID, the trans community who was hit hard in the past year and some from family members who are no longer with us," said Najera.

Deisy recommends going to ladayofthedead.com for tickets and to plan the day.

"Please download the map and the program because you need to schedule what you want to see. It's so full of activities and you want to know where you want to be and what time," said Deisy.

The event is October 29, and tickets start at $35. The daytime event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while the evening event is from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.