OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Day of the Dead celebrations are coming back to life this year after going virtual last year because of COVID-19 restrictions. But things are not entirely back to normal.
Oakland's Día de los Muertos festival, which drew about 100,000 people in past years, is changing focus.
The Unity Council, which organizes the event in the Fruitvale District, is doing away with the music stages and instead offering a health fair and vaccination clinic.
"We know a lot of folks in our community have not been able to be vaccinated due to the schedules of the clinics and vaccination sites," said Itzel Diaz, interim Director of Development and Communication at Unity Council.
The Fruitvale has been hit hard by the pandemic. The area has a large Latino population, many of which are front-line workers who could not stay home during the height of the pandemic.
The district had one of the highest infection rates in Oakland and still has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city.
As a result, the focus of the festival this year is on physical and mental healing.
A curandera is featured on posters promoting the event. A curandera is a traditional healer who uses herbs and plants to cure physical and emotional illnesses.
Instead of having music stages as was typical before the pandemic, this year the festival will have a community health fair and a vaccination clinic.
Unity Council is also partnering with La Clínica to offer a drumming circle featuring dozens of African djembe drums.
"There are certain beats in the djembe drums traced back generations. When everyone tunes in with this rhythm, you connect to the harmony. You connect to the vibrations and tap into that energy. That offers an opportunity to balance our minds and emotions, our body and spirit. We have this collective healing that happens," said Raul Pacheco, a behavioral health educator for La Clínica's Cultura and Bienestar Program.
Several healing drumming circles will be held from noon to 2:00 p.m. during the festival. They will be led by Arturo Carrillo, who has conducted drumming circles at The Wright Institute and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
This year's event is also not having any vendors. Organizers are encouraging attendees to patronize local shops and restaurants that suffered from the pandemic.
"There are little shops that sell all kinds of art and jewelry. So we really want to make sure that this is also a platform for them so they can stay around a long time," said Diaz.
2021 DAY OF THE DEAD EVENTS IN THE BAY AREA
Avenue of the Altars: A Day of the Dead Celebration
October 30, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Free)
Mexican Heritage Plaza
1700 Alum Rock Avenue
The event features a curated altar walk along Alum Rock Avenue starting at the Mexican Heritage Plaza to Highway 101. Music and folkloric dancing will greet walkers along the route. A community celebration featuring music by La Misa Negra will take place at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.
Día de los Muertos Party feat. Oakland Ballet Company's Luna Mexicana
October 30, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (FREE)
Peralta Hacienda Historical Park
2465 34th Avenue.
Trick or treating and art activities precede a special performance by the Oakland Ballet Company.
Halloween Carnival with Día de los Muertos Celebration
October 30, 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (FREE)
Rohnert Park Community Center Complex
5491 Snyder Lane
The event includes a haunted maze and a costume parade for Halloween along with community altars and a performance by Ballet Folklorico de Petaluma Paquiyollotzin and Danza Xantotl Aztec Dancers.
Día de los Muertos
October 30, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (FREE)
Chapel of the Chimes Hayward
32992 Mission Boulevard
A community event featuring an altar blessing, folkloric dancers, mariachi music and a free lunch and coloring books.
Día de Muertos: Curando Corazones Community Health Fair
October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Free)
International Boulevard & Fruitvale Avenue
The festival won't have the typical music stages, but instead will offer a COVID-19 vaccination clinic, healing activities, Aztec dancers, a lowrider car showcase and Day of the Dead altar displays.
Public Altar Lighting Ceremony
November 1, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (FREE)
Sonoma Community Center
276 East Napa Street
The public is invited to a special ceremony to light a 12-foot community altar. There will be music and food. Visitors can bring a small momento to add to the altar that will be on display until November 3.
Music in Memoriam - A Multicultural Celebration of Día de los Muertos
November 1, 6:00 p.m.
San Jose Woman's Club (FREE - $12)
75 South 11th Street
An hour-long musical performance showcasing Día de los Muertos through the lens of different cultures.
"Neither So Many, Nor So Dead, In Our Memories" Day of the Dead Celebration
November 2, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Admission: $5- $10 (Proof of vaccination required)
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA)
2868 Mission Street, San Francisco
The indoor altar display can be viewed until November 19. On November 2, there will be a special ceremony featuring an altar display, Aztec dancers, a poetry reading and a musical performance by Intl Batey.
Día de los Muertos
November 2, 1:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (FREE)
Lone Tree Cemetery Association
24591 Fairview Avenue
A free community event featuring mariachi music and sugar skull making classes. Complimentary food will be served from 4-6 p.m.
SOMArts' Día de los Muertos Exhibit
Until November 5, 2021 (FREE)
SOMArts Cultural Center
934 Brannan Street
An altar exhibit by 19 artists curated by Rio Yañez and Carolina Quintanilla. The exhibit focused on how rituals have changed during the pandemic.
November 5, 7:30 p.m. & November 7, 2:00 p.m. ($24-$59)
A blend of dance, music and colorful costumes presented by Oakland Ballet.
Día de los Muertos
November 6, 3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. (FREE)
Albert J. Boro Community Center
50 Canal Street
A wide ranging event that includes a car procession through San Rafael, an altar display, a walking procession through the Canal neighborhood, food, music and dance.
Día de los Muertos Celebration
November 6, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
200 Georgia Street
A community event featuring music and food. Performances by local mariachi groups, Aztec and folkloric dancers.
Día de los Muertos Concert
November 6, 2:00 p.m. ($17.50 - $115)
San Francisco Symphony
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness Avenue
Enluis Montes Olivar Will conduct the annuall concert that features traditional Latin American music from Buenos Aires to Mexico.
Ofrenda (Altar at OMCA)
Until November 28
Oakland Museum of California
1000 Oak Street
Lower level near the entrance to the Gallery of California Natural Sciences
There will not be an in-person celebration this year, but various virtual activities are available at the museum website. An altar display commemorating COVID-19 victims is on display until November 28.