Day of the Dead celebration planned

Participants march during a previous Day of the Dead celebration in Santa Cruz. Watsonville will have its own event Friday evening at the city plaza. (Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Friday evening the Watsonville Film Festival will host a free, family-friendly Day of the Dead event in Watsonville Plaza, ending with an outdoor screening of Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.”

The celebration, “Fiesta de Día de los Muertos,” will include performances by El Sistema Youth Orchestra from Radcliff Elementary School, Mariachi Javier Vargas, Estrellas de Esperanza and Olin Youth Folkloric Ballets, beginning at 4 p.m.

In addition, Mariposa Arts from the Arts Council Santa Cruz, Pajaro Valley Arts, Alianza Charter School and Un Watsonville Brillante will offer family activities including face-painting, Day of the Dead candle decoration, sugar skull bookmark coloring, paper-flower making and Ojos de Dios, a type of yarn art.

An interactive art installation created by artist Kathleen Crocetti titled “Light Spirit House” will be on-site. This glowing house in the dark will welcome children and adults to paint four panels that integrate Watsonville landmarks with iconic Day of the Dead scenes by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Pan de muerto (Bread of the Dead) made by local bakeries and marigolds harvested from Pajaro Valley fields will accompany the photos and mementos of loved ones who have passed at the community altars around the kiosk. The public is welcome to bring their own flowers, candles and offerings to place on the community altar.

The screening of “Coco” will begin at sunset, with Spanish audio and English subtitles.

This film and art celebration is part of the Healthy Community Film Series, presented by Watsonville Film Festival in collaboration with the City of Watsonville, Watsonville Certified Farmers Market and Hola Watsonville with support from the Harbourton Foundation, Arts Council, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust.

“We are preparing to host a large number of families with children who want to watch this beloved movie and celebrate a festive and profound holiday honoring loved ones who are no longer with us,” said Consuelo Alba, director of the Watsonville Film Festival and main organizer of the event.

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