PREVIEW PHOTOS: Día de los Muertos Display Debuts Today

See a preview of this year's display at the Half Moon Bay Library which will be unveiled this morning to Hatch Elementary School students.

For Armando Ramirez, Community Outreach Librarian at the , preparation for the annual is a full-time job.

Celebrated throughout Mexico as well as in the United States, the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday is a day to celebrate and remember those who have passed on. 

Communities create homages to the dead through simple yet elaborate altars featuring photos of their loved ones surrounded by flowers and the favorite things of the deceased — all watched over by ornately-dressed skeletons.

Families also visit the gravesites of their loved ones, bringing offerings of the deceased's favorite food and drink and decorating gravesites with flowers and candles. Each resting place is also given a good cleaning.

Other traditions associated with the holiday vary from region to region throughout Mexico — and can even differ from one district to the next within the same city, according to many Latino residents in the Half Moon Bay, Pescadero and unincorporated Coastside community. 

This year, the celebration takes place from Nov. 1-2, the same days as the Catholic All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

To ensure that each year's displays are unique, Ramirez is always looking out for new pieces to add to the traditional altar and skeleton display, according to San Mateo County Library Community Program Specialist Martina Tello, who co-designed this year's displays with Ramirez.

"He's always thinking about it — pointing out things that might work for the altars and displays throughout the year," Tello said.

"I find new pieces during trips to Mexico," Ramirez said of the skeleton figures which are integral to the displays.

Ramirez pointed out new figures he acquired — three gussied-up skeletons ready for a night out in bright dresses, with the diva in the center decked out in green feathers, a sequined dress and a giant hat to match adorned with multicolored flowers.

Tello, who works with Latino communities in Half Moon Bay and Pescadero, says the library also borrows pieces from local residents each year as well.

On Wednesday evening, Ramirez and Tello were finishing up the installation of the displays, which will be unveiled to Half Moon Bay's students this morning through early afternoon.

Children from in Half Moon Bay will arrive to see the displays on Friday, Ramirez said.

The preschool will be showing altars they created to honor those that have passed on. One was already up by Wednesday evening along the wall of the library's children's section.

On Friday evening (Oct. 28), the library will host a at 7 p.m. The celebration is free and open to the public.

The Half Moon Bay Library is located at 620 Correas St.

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