Downtown Hemet will be the site of the first Día de los Muertos community-wide celebration from 4-8 p.m., Nov. 2. Residents are invited to gather at N. Harvard St. for food and craft vendors, music, face-painting and numerous vehicles from local lowrider car clubs. There will also be an altar display, so guests are invited to bring a picture, candle or belonging of a loved one.
Mayor Malcolm Lilienthal said the city is sponsoring the event by shutting the Harvard Street down so the event can be held safely.
“This is a cultural event which falls under the city’s strategic plan for community engagement,” he said. “It is a way to have an event that promotes more community involvement. Plans for next year are to create a budget for more events that bring the community together while promoting unity.”
Lilienthal reached out to Sonia Lamas, CEO of the nonprofit Lamas Housing Project, to produce the event that is a cultural tradition in the Hispanic community. He knew Lamas would be a strong organizer and approached her about taking on that role.
“This is a community event in collaboration with the City of Hemet,” Lamas said. “This project was designed to bring a life celebration to a Mexican tradition in honor of the dead and expanding that tradition among our Valley. Allowing a day designed to celebrate those that we have lost due to COVID, disease and unexpected death. This is the first one but Lamas Housing Project plans to make this one of its signature events to continue year after year.”
She said major sponsors are the City of Hemet and Memorial Funeral Services with other support coming from Solo Wrap, Unite the Valley Project, Florezco Counseling, Valley Restart, Los Mareados, Interstate Steel, MSJC, Budology, Golden Village Palms RV Luxury Park, Black Voices of The Valley, Hernandez Jumper and other individuals in the community.
“El Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, most clearly captures the possibility of embracing the dead,” Lamas explained. “Though the day is celebrated in several countries in Latin America, it has been most elaborated in Mexico. Having this event was an opportunity for our community to honor those that have made it home.”
Lamas has lived in Hemet for the past 20 years and she was happy to produce this project for other residents of the San Jacinto Valley.
“In the past I have had to travel outside of the area to celebrate our custom tradition,” she said. “When the mayor asked if I would do this event I was honored and accepted the challenge on short notice. I also expressed, ‘If you want me to do this, you have to let me run with it’ and Mayor Lilienthal said, ‘go for it.’”
For vendor information, please call 951-390-9200.