The sound of music and laughter from dozens of families filled the main commons of Hermiston High School Friday night in celebration of Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead.
The event was put together by the high school’s newly established club, Juntos — which translates to “together” in Spanish.
“It’s important for people to come together and celebrate those that have passed,” said Michelle Sanguino, 17, who is part of Juntos.
“And for families to feel comfortable,” added Susie Amzo, 16, who is also a part of the club.
Sanguino said some people in the community may feel reluctant to come out to celebrate the holiday, which is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
“This is a good way for parents in the Hispanic community to get involved,” she added. “And many of them haven’t seen (the holiday celebrated) in schools since they went to school.”
Amzo and Sanguino are two of seven students that hold leadership positions in Juntos. The club aims to promote Latino student leadership, as well as cultural events.
Day of the Dead is an Aztec holiday celebrated across Latin America that highlights the lives of loved ones, both those who have passed and who are alive, according to club advisers Omar Medina and Cristina Cuevas.
The event provided live music throughout the night. Volunteers, some from the high school’s Advanced Placement art classes, provided free skull face-painting. Many skull designs for Day of the Dead are modeled after the iconic La Catrina and feature bright colors.
Originally illustrated by Mexican engraver José Guadalupe Posada in the 1910s, La Catrina is a high-society skeleton woman. The point of the illustration, according to New York Latin Culture Magazine, is to show that in death, everyone — rich and poor — is equal.
Areahi Galvan, 8, chose blue accents for her face paint.
“That’s my favorite color,” she said.
She added that her favorite part of the celebration was the cookie decorating.
Blank sugar cookies acted as canvases for the array of colored frostings available to attendees, but Mexican cuisine and a variety of agua frescas were also available for purchase throughout the event.
Toward the end of the night, organizers hung a piñata from the banister of the school’s second story.
The main floor of the high school transformed into a candy bonanza as each child got the chance to hit the piñata three times, until it exploded across the floor.
Sanguino said Juntos is already planning its next big event — a big Cinco de Mayo dance for students, which will take place around the same time as the Hermiston High School prom.