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Coachella Valley celebrates 'Day of the Dead'

COACHELLA, Calif. - More than 2,000 family and friends gathered at Forest Lawn in Coachella to honor and remember their loved ones who have died. Cecilia Hurtado, of Indio, and her family celebrate the lives of her children's grandparents and her own on Friday night.

"It's beautiful. It's awesome we get to do this in the states," she said.

It's all part of Dia de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead." The Mexican holiday is now enjoyed throughout Mexico and around the world. Many believe it's when the spirit of the dead visit their families.

"We bring them flowers, food and a rosary and we just talk about our memories with them," said Hurtado.

In the Coachella Valley some colorful traditions include bringing food offerings for the spirits to enjoy. Some people paint their faces to resemble skulls and others visit and decorate gravesites with candles.

Many also placed photos and notes of sentiment on the communal altar. It's a time to mourn along with happiness and joy.

"You get mixed emotions. When I got here I got sad, but you start to think about the happy times," said Hurtado.

Forest Lawn manager Ernesto Rosales says, "When folks come out here some are festive or sad. You see some tears and some smiles. It's all the natural effect of life."

The event featured live mariachi music, Aztec dancers and a religious ceremony where our sister station Kuna Telemundo's Hernan Quintas read a verse from the Bible.  

Dia de los Muertos is a longstanding tradition Hurtado hopes will live on with her kids and beyond.

"One day we'll be gone and hopefully they'll keep the tradition going with their kids," she said.

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