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David Cil, 8, of Oakland, looks over art on display during a Day of the Dead celebration at the Impulse Gallery in Pittsburg, Calif. on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. The event also featured live music, dancing and memory tables. (Sherry LaVars/Staff)

There is a big difference between celebrating Halloween on Oct. 31 and celebrating the Day of the Dead or "Dia de los Muertos" on Nov. 2, according to Gabriela Banos-Galvan coordinator of Oakley's You, Me, We Oakley!

"Some people who don't really know what Dia de los Muertos is don't realize that it isn't about going around asking for candy like on Halloween," Banos-Galvan said. "It is about showing respect to our ancestors."

A few months back the city of Oakley put a call out to Oakley residents for art pieces that displayed people's heritage. One of the pieces created for the display was an "ofrendas" or otherwise called a memory table or alter.

"Once we saw the piece we decided we wanted to host a workshop around the art," Banos-Galvan said. "The art became the inspiration for this workshop."

Banos-Galvan said that this event has been planned out to have something for every one of all ages, as well as something for those who already know and understand what the Day of the Dead is all about, and those who have never really participated in a celebration of the Day and want to learn about it.

The event, which takes place on Saturday at the Oakley City Hall beginning at 1 p.m., will feature a welcome and introduction explanation of Day of the Dead, community activities that feature paper flower making, making sugar skulls and face painting and holiday bread. The group is encouraging visitors to the program to bring a photo of a loved one or a hero that has passed on to share at the alter as part of the workshop. The workshop will finish up at 3 p.m.


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Those who attend the event will be able to see the Origins of Oakley still on display in the lobby at the city hall.

Continuing on with its tradition, Pittsburg will also host its own Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead event, this year titled "Ni la muerte nos separara" or "Even death won't part us now!" This three-day event will begin Friday and last throughout the weekend.

Downtown Pittsburg has been celebrating this event for the past 10 years or more, according to Rose Mary Tumbaga of the Pittsburg Arts & Community Foundation.

"This celebration springs from indigenous beliefs that the spirits of deceased loved ones return to reunite with their families on Nov. 2," Tumbaga said.

Exhibits will fill the Impulse Gallery at 329 Railroad Ave. with the "Day of the Dead" themed art and ofrendas, while activities throughout the weekend will help to teach people about the cultural occasion. Art activities will include paper flower making on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for $1 each and sugar skull decorating on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. for $3 each.

There will also be refreshments served on Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. followed by live entertainment from 3 to 5 p.m. Mexican bingo, loteria, can be played for free Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free prizes are available.

"Every year this event grows," Tumbaga said. "This will be a wonderful show this year."

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