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Day of the Dead on a Dying Bridge

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, October 29, 2007, at 06:58PM
6th st bridge Ed Fuentes

Saturday and Sunday Arte Calidad's Eighth Annual Festival De La Gente stretched across the historic Sixth Street Viaduct linking Downtown and Boyle Heights in what is declared as the nation's largest Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. This year's event marked the second in which Downtown organizations played a noticeable role, with organizers doing their part to forge a strong link between the two sides of the Los Angeles River.

Festival arrivals from the Eastside stumbled onto a giant block party, while those coming from the Downtown side got a different look. They saw a third of a mile of bridge span used as a parking lot before finally encountering artists booths, altars, and lowriders. The festival's main stage was set up in the intersection of 6th and Boyle, off the bridge and back onto real ground.

Tub PrayerLike last year, booths were set up for Downtown artists and this time it was helped along by Dale Youngman of The Regent Gallery, who according to Russell Brown of DLNAC, asked Dale for her curating experience and has been working on it full time for the last several weeks.

The 1933 Sixth Street Viaduct provides a symbolic setting for a Dia De Los Muertos festival, given its cancer and probable demolition. Those studying the bridge and its upcoming replacement have debated whether the span should be replaced with a replica in its historic style or whether the new structure should be of a modern design.

The Fiesta De La Gente supports the case shared by Boyle Heights residents––and many Downtowners––that any modern design for 6th Street Bridge would be out of place. If honoring the legacy of ancestors is what the festival is about, you can say the colors of the sunset, that rivaled the paper-mache masks and carnival, may have been the design spirits of the bridges asking to not be forgotten.

6th Street Parking LotFestival de la Gente

Top left: Our Lady of Guadalupe greets Eastsiders. Top right: Children with painted faces waiting for music to start at the main stage. Middle: Altars lined up along the bridge. Bottom left: The arches of the bridge framing Downtown. Bottom right: The start of a colorful sunset behind a crumbling pillar.

Festival de la GenteFestival de la Gente

Below left: Crewest's Man-One paints City Hall. Below right: Crowds at the main stage with Downtown in the distance.

Slid Row Spirit: Don Garza has thoughts after watching a band made up of Historic Core and Skid Row residents. He writes "We can save ourselves if given the right opportunities to interact in a healthy community made up of different people and not a ghetto that is isolated from the rest of the world."

Angelenic Spirit: Rico adds how El Pueblo will be holding Day of the Dead events nightly from 7:00 to 9:00 pm until November 2, the traditional last day of Dia de los Muertos. The Pico House Gallery is exhibiting "Sacred Memory: Honoring the Dead Across Cultures" until November 19.

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