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Music, Food Are Lively Options for Celebrants of Day of the Dead

November 02, 1995

Day of the Dead celebrations are atmospheric events, as rich in visual appeal as they are in traditions.

That was clear at the holiday observance this weekend at the Lab in Costa Mesa. The wall-long altar built for the celebration was lush with candles, religious figurines, photographs of departed relatives and elaborate memory boxes holding family mementos.

Rick Ireland, manager of Habana restaurant in the plaza, was just one of those who took part. He placed among the marigolds on the altar the 1905 camera his grandmother gave him.

Along with artifacts offered to the spirit of loved ones, people visiting the Lab, an anti-mall that caters to alternative culture, left behind sugar cubes shaped like skulls, espresso drinks, cigarettes and liquor. Members of the mariachi band that played Saturday brought sugar cane to the shrine.

In the festive spirit of Dia de los Muertos--traditionally observed in Latin America, Spain and Portugal on Nov. 2--people painted their faces white and added black accents to symbolize skeletons or teardrops. They also decorated blank masks, watched flamenco dancers and danced to the rhythms of guitars, maracas, trumpets and violins.

Food was plentiful too. Visitors ate pork, chicken or sweet-potato tamales with rice and beans and drank agua fresco.

The religious importance of the holiday was further acknowledged when Father Cirilo Flores of St. Joachim Parish blessed the altar Saturday afternoon.

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