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The Unity Council held its 26th annual Día de los Muertos festival on International Boulevard in Fruitvale on Sunday, Oct. 31. Twenty community altars created by local artists were on display, decorated with marigolds, sugar skulls, and other offerings to the dead. Traditional Aztec dancers from Calpulli Huitzilopoxtli and other groups also provided a highlight with their performances at the intersection on 35th Avenue. 

Around 30,000 people participated in this year’s event, according to the Unity Council. The festival was celebrated virtually last year due to the pandemic, and Sunday’s in-person event—themed “Curando Corazones” (Healing Hearts)—was organized differently to make social distancing easier for festival-goers.

Reporter Jiyun Tsai was on hand and captured some images.

Festival-goers enjoy one of the 20 altars decorated with papel picado and marigold flowers. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Visual artist Daniel Camacho works on a piece of altar artwork with butterflies symbolizing the four directions. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Festival participants write and paint on white butterfly-shaped paper at Daniel Camacho’s altar. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
A festival participant leaving a message to a departed loved one on a typewriter at the Creative Growth altar. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
“Los Bomberos de Oakland,” Latino firefighters of Oakland Fire Department, set up their first-ever altar at the festival paying respects to firefighters who lost their lives. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Artist Gonzalo Hidalgo introduced his altar to festival-goers. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Aztec dancers prepare for the dance. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Dancers perform a traditional Aztec dance. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
An Aztec dancer dressed in ceremonial garments. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
An Aztec dancer holding hand rattles at the dance. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
Aztec dancers performed at the intersection of 35th Avenue and International Boulevard. Credit: Jiyun Tsai
An Aztec dancer performs in a feathered headdress. Credit: Jiyun Tsai

This photo essay was produced in collaboration with Oakland North.