Private altars, skeletons and live music were part of the celebration at Central Texas College on Saturday honoring the passing of loved ones.
CTC partnered with the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the largest Latino rights and advocacy group in the United
States, to put together the third annual Calavertias Festival to celebrate Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.
The holiday focuses on gatherings to pray for and remember friends and family members who died.
“Central Texas College has a very big Mexican and Hispanic community in this area, and we wanted to share some of that culture,” said Mariceli Vargas, director of Student Life and Activities. “Día de los Muertos is a way to pay homage to those who have passed.”
Holiday traditions include building private altars called ofrendas honoring the dead and going to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed to leave favorite foods, drinks and mementos at the altar or grave site. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers of the living for them.
“It’s important for people to learn about different cultures — not just for Mexico, but also for Latin America and Puerto Rico,” said Julia Villaronga, vice president and one of the founding members of LULAC Council 4535 in Killeen.
Villaronga estimated attendance at the Day of the Dead event to be 3,000 to 4,000 people.
The festival was funded in part by the Killeen Civic Art Guild, which also contributes funds to LULAC for Cinco de Mayo, the Latino Arts Festival, and other cultural activities.