CommunityWorks is proud to support the work of 3sixty in the Eastcore neighborhood of Holland, Michigan. At the height of a global pandemic, Eastcore residents launched a new event with special meaning; an event that showed us all the value of culture in building a connected community. This is their story.

First Annual Dia De Los Muertos festival

A significant percentage of Eastcore residents find connection, meaning, and belonging through the rich traditions of the Hispanic culture. Included in this number are business owners Jaqui Navarrete and Lucy Mircoles.

When Juaqui and Lucy were approached by Lori Appledorn from 3sixty’s Neighborhood Advocacy Team about piloting a Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, they agreed it was a good opportunity to share this tradition with the neighborhood.

Residents of Eastcore woke up on October 31, 2021 to a sunny and somewhat chili morning. If they walked over to the field at Rosa Parks, they would see a flurry of activity as festival planners and volunteers hurriedly put up tents and tables, set out memory candles and sugar skulls, and organized the Altar.

By 2:00 O’clock everything was in place. The festival kicked off with a welcome, followed by music from a Mariachi band. Children and youth took advantage of the face painting and craft booths, while families adorned the altar with photos, sugar skulls, and candles.

Through the festival, 63 residents created together a collective experience of remembrance and deep human connection. Sandy, for example, had recently lost her fiancé to COVID-19. She placed a photo of Tim on the altar and mourned his passing with others, in community.

As Jake Norris, Director of 3sixty remarked afterward, “It was absolutely moving to see this shared appreciation for life lived together emerge.” Every single one of the residents that participated in the follow-up survey said they’d come out again in 2022! With the likes of Jaqui and Lucy at the helm, you know next year’s Dia De Los Muertos festival will be even more meaningful.

We wish you all the best, Eastcore!