Every winter there is ice skating in downtown Los Angeles and this year the activities for children were expanded. The temporary ice rink is set up in Pershing Square by a group that calls itself the Holiday Ice Rink, but I am not certain who brought in the bouncy-houses, miniature merry-go-round and kid-size train..
This expanding event probably does not make the Pershing Square Restoration Society very happy. They want to return the Square to something similar to its park-like original configuration over 100 years ago. Mostly it would be grass and trees and statues if they had their way. I am not sure where the urban ice skating rink would go in their plans, not to mention the children’s playground and the dog park lined with tall pink concrete cylinders and bougainvillea.
The current configuration of Pershing Square–and there have been 5 redesigns since the beginning–was done in 1993 by the famous Mexican Modernist architect Ricardo Legorreta, landscape architect Laurie Olin, and artist Barbara McCarren. And as the years have rolled by the playgrounds were added in recognition of the growing number of families living downtown. I used to favor restoration, but no longer. Grand Park, just a few blocks away, has plenty of grass and trees and some statues, too.
There seemed to be fewer Day of the Dead altars this year in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. While they varied from massive works of art by professional artists to intimate memorial altars created by a family member, they all had one thing in common: masses of orange and yellow marigolds. Marigolds became part of this tradition because their vibrant colors were considered to be a signal–a signpost–to the dead of where to return to visit family members at the cemetery on November 1st, All Saints Day. This ancient festival in Mayan culture pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in Mexico. The timing of November 1st was a compromise between the old ways and the “new”.
I am breaking up the photos I took into three parts. This is part one. Tomorrow I will do the Political Day of the Dead altars including one very very surprising altar. And in the Third Part I’ll show you close-ups of what is actually included on the altars.
The Olvera Street Merchants were the first group to launch Dia de los Muertos celebrations this year on October 6th. And the women of Los Angeles definitely got into the spirit of this ancient and now very popular holiday.
It is almost a month until Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day, as it is also known, on November 1st, the day after Halloween. These two holidays have run together here in Los Angeles into one huge party.
So here is what I saw:
According to one vendor there are 20 other Day of the Dead events in Los Angeles this year. The two big ones I intend to go to are at Grand Park in downtown L.A.where the large colorful altars will be unveiled on October 27th and 28th. Then on November 2nd – 4th, there will be altars in stores and Halloween events inOld Town Pasadena.
The cornerstone for the church commonly called “La Placita” church in the historic district of the Pueblo of Los Angeles was laid by Franciscan Luis Gil y Taboada in 1814 on the ruins of an older church founded in 1784. It is the oldest church in Los Angeles.
And, much to my surprise, La Placita has recently been painted all white…well, except for one wall on the side by the cemetery so perhaps the painting is not complete. Quite frankly, I preferred the beige and red colors of the previous exterior paint. Because it is a parish church and Sunday services were being held I did not see if the interior has been repainted too.
This church faces onto the historic plaza at the end of Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles.
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On my way to an art/music festival at Grand Park I came across this couple having their wedding photos taken in Union Station. A few of us watched, but many other people simply walked by, each involved with his/her own life.
I love the fact that the bride is wearing an elegant beige gown. Before Queen Victoria got married in a white gown brides did not wear white. I wish more brides would give up that 200 hundred year old custom and start wearing colors again. Another argument against white bridal gowns: in some parts of the world white is the color of mourning.