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Day of the Dead Altar honors San Diegans lost to COVID-19

Dia de Muertos
Alexandra Rangel
COVID-19 Altar de Muertos at the San Diego County Administration Center is pictured on November 1, 2021.

The second annual COVID-19 Altar de Muertos was set up outside the County Administration Center.

The altar was created by county and community leaders to commemorate San Diegans who have died from the virus.

“This is taking a culturally significant holiday in the Latino and Mexican culture for centuries and using it to get the families who lost someone a place to celebrate their lives, to commemorate everything that they lived for,” Nathan Fletcher, County Supervisor Chair, said.

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The county encouraged community members to send in pictures of their family members who died during the pandemic.

Nearly 100 photos were submitted.

Dia de Muertos 2
Alexandra Rangel
Photos of community members are pictured in the COVID-19 Altar de Muertos at the San Diego County Administration Center on November 1, 2021.

“Some of the stories that we hear are of a son and mother that have passed away,” Paola Martinez-Montes said.

Montes is the community engagement director at the county. She received this year’s submissions.

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“Last year we represented all lives lost to COVID-19 so we had 900 represented last year. This year we’re at 4,200,” Montes said.

Forty-two hundred candles were lit and placed on the altar to represent each life that was lost. As Montes helped put the altar together she honored her grandmother, Maria Fregozo, who’s picture adorns the altar.

Dia de Muertos 3
Alexandra Rangel
Photos of community members are pictured in the COVID-19 Altar de Muertos at the San Diego County Administration Center on November 1, 2021.

Fregozo died from COVID-19 last year.

Although a devastating loss for her family, Montes knows her Grandmother is somewhere rejoicing on this day.

“Earlier this morning we were playing music as we were setting up. I hope that as she comes, she hears that. I remember at one of her parties she was singing with the family so I hope she enjoys that,” Montes said.

A special ceremony will be held in front of the altar on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 6:30 pm to honor each life.

Day of the Dead Altar Honors San Diegans lost to COVID-19