The 106-year-old National Landmark Looff Racecourse (aka Merry Go-Round Building) on the Santa Monica Pier has long been said to have been visited by spirits. While that may or may not be true, there are guaranteed to be spirits among the building’s carousel horses on November 1 and 2 during the two-day Dia de los Muertos celebration at the pier.
Assembled in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the beloved Santa Monica Pier carousel and its 44 hand-carved wooden horses celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. For many generations, these horses have provided timeless memories, much like the rest of the Santa Monica Pier. These memories, along with the people they belong to, will be honored during the pier’s two-day Dia de los Muertos festival.
Artists Daniel Alonzo and Sylvia Sanchez bring the vision for this year’s Dia de los Muertos to the Pier. Over the past few years, the duo have assembled award-winning altars at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Daniel Alonzo is a second-generation Santa Monica native and highly respected muralist, best known for his “Whale of a Mural” that adorns the south side wall of Santa Monica’s 4th Street Underpass and Ocean Park Boulevard. . Sylvia Sanchez brought the magic of her spectacular altars to the pier in 2021, giving a special nod to the memories of people who have had a special connection with the Santa Monica Pier and with Santa Monica, throughout its 113 years of history.
“This year in the Merry Go-Round we will have a small altar dedicated to Nick Gabaldon, the first Mexican/African American surfer I had heard stories about since I was a young boy,” notes Daniel Alonzo, “and we will have other altars to honor the Marquez and Reyes families, as well as Arcadia Bandini, all of whom have given so much to Santa Monica and its origins.
“Dia de los Muertos is a two-day celebration of remembrance, honor, respect, joy and beauty,” according to Sylvia Sanchez, “We don’t mourn death, we celebrate life! The first day, November 1, is Dia de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels), when we celebrate deceased babies and children, who are always so impatient and run ahead of the adults before the main event on November 2.
The Pier also offers everyone a very special way to honor their deceased loved ones with Letters of Life, an art installation in which community members can share their favorite memories of Pier, photographs and anecdotes of family and friends. deceased. These memories will decorate our space via our digital murals that surround the century-old historic carousel and will be displayed during our celebration. And look out for Pacific Park’s iconic Ferris wheel, which will be specially decorated for the holidays.
Tuesday, November 1 | 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. | Carousel building. Dia de los Angelitos – Guests can stroll through the Merry Go-Round building to see several art installations, including the transformation of the century-old carousel, which will be draped in marigolds and papel picado! Enjoy traditional Ballet Folklorico dancing presented by local Santa Monica business, Cabeza de Vaca Cultural School, beginning at 6 p.m.
Wednesday November 2 | 5:30pm – 9:30pm Dia de los Muertos – Guests will experience several art installations and live performances like Grupo La Rosa’s Folklorico Ballet from Maria A Villalobos & Parents, and will be serenaded by a Mariachi band during this celebration. The reflective and commemorative event will begin with a blessing led by the indigenous Tongva community at the western end of the pier, a face painting led by our partner Mariasol and Ms Brown’s Artistry, followed by a vibrant and colorful procession led by Aztec dancers. from the west end to the Merry Go-Round building. We encourage you to dress in your favorite Día de los Muertos style to participate in our community walking procession. Tamales provided at The Albright and hot chocolate by Soda Jerks.
For more information on Santa Monica Pier’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, please visit https://www.santamonicapier.org/diadelosmuertos
Jim Harris | Executive Director