Celebrating Dia de los Muertos with the Staff of the San Diego Symphony & Coco in Concert!

Alyssa Villasenor’s family (pictured on right) on Halloween. Her grandmother sewed the Coco character costumes, her cousin’s painted skeleton faces on each other, while her aunts decorated the front yard and brought Coco to life!

Dia De Los Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico beginning on October 31. Families create “ofrendas” or alters and decorate them with candles, flowers, water, food and photos of their deceased family members. The decorated alters demonstrate love and respect for the deceased and the cities are covered with “papel picadao,” lights, flowers, skeletons, music and parades!

With the upcoming Disney Pixar Coco In Concert, we asked a few of our staff members what excited them about the film Coco!

Maria Araujo, VP for Learning & Community Engagement: I loved Coco! As I found it explained the Mexican celebration and traditions of family life with much grace. On a personal level, I love skeletons…I find them levelling and gracious. My father used to sing a funny song about one of them gathering his own bones until complete to then go dancing around. We do not celebrate Day of the Dead in Venezuela.

However, my paternal grandmother’s house always had an altar with candle light, flowers and photos of loved lost ones, in addition to its grand fruit trees, inner patio, hens and fresh eggs.

Thinking back that may be the origin of my love of candlelight and home altars, in which I find refuge and quietude.

Noe Bustamante, IT Support Specialist: The movie definitely hits me in the feelings since as a child I was raised in Mexico by my abuela for several years. I think many can relate to having that wonderful grandmother and sharing in memories, music, and laughter. (Even if they are not familiar with Día de Muertos.)

It has been a while since I celebrated since it was mostly my Abuela Engracia who would get the whole house and a few neighbors into the celebration. Food such as tamales, champurrado, and pan de muerto were made by the matriarchs of several families. Music, which was mostly my abuela’s 1940-50s and some folk. My abuela would do a small alter in the home with photos and light a candle or two, we would set out a pan de muerto and a drink and leave it overnight. To celebrate those loved ones who have moved on and remember them.

Alyssa Villasenor, Marketing Coordinator: Growing up I never had a movie that related to my culture and the language I speak. With the premiere of Coco in 2017, it provided my family and many others of the same culture with a sense of awe. The film provided beautiful animation, music and a wonderful storyline that shared much of what my Mexican heritage has to offer. From the alebrijes, to Frida Kahlo the movie did a fantastic job demonstrating an authentic Dia De Los Muertos. My family enjoyed the concha cameos, the way the Land of the Dead looked like Guanajuato with the houses stacked on each other, and the music. With songs like “La Llorona” and “La Paloma” it left us with a great sense of nostalgia. My family are huge Disney fans and the movie represents the Mexico we know and love which is why last year on Halloween, my family orchestrated my favorite Halloween so far!

Alyssa Villasenor’s family (pictured above) on Halloween. Her grandmother sewed the Coco character costumes, her cousin’s painted skeleton faces on each other, while her aunts decorated the front yard and brought Coco to life!  


This film is a great opportunity to learn about an important piece of Mexican culture while enjoying the beautiful score. The San Diego Symphony will be presenting Disney Pixar Coco In Concert on October 26, 2019. To buy your tickets please visit, Coco In Concert.



This post was written by Marketing Coordinator Alyssa Villasenor. 

Share Article
Back to all posts