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The UpValley Family Centers held its annual Día de los Muertos celebration Saturday at the Napa Valley College Upper Valley Campus in St. Helena.

Participants celebrated the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday with traditional music, dancing, food, face-painting, arts and crafts projects, and colorful altars memorializing deceased loved ones.

The afternoon featured entertainment by the Ballet Folklorico dance company, singer Jazmin Oro, the student-run Mariachi Luz de Oro de Berkeley, and the Aztec dance group Calpulli Nanahuatzin.

Nimbus Arts helped kids decorate skulls, the symbol most commonly associated with Day of the Dead, made out of paper, tin, sugar and ceramics.

“I’ve been doing this with Nimbus for seven years, and it’s been fun to watch this event grow and evolve,” said Nikki Ballere Callnan of NBC Pottery. “The movie ‘Coco’ that came out a few years ago really informed people of what this celebration is about.”

Most of the altars honored loved ones, but Wendy Fern of Napa County Public Health decorated one to raise awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

“We have a really high rate of stillborn and fetal loss that we don’t talk about,” said Fern. “This is a way to raise awareness of that.”

The celebration was originally planned for Nov. 2 but was postponed due to the Kincade Fire and poor air quality.

Sponsors included The Cave Company, Alan and Sarah Galbraith, The Doctors Company, Fit NV, Napa Valley Wealth Management, Congressman Mike Thompson, Jones Family Vineyards, Umpqua Bank, Westamerica Bank, the city of St. Helena, and the Damian Maldonado Memorial Foundation.

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You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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