The history and culture of the local Mexican-American community came to life Nov. 6 at the inaugural Dia de los Muertos celebration, hosted by the Mountain View Historical Association.
More than 150 people filled the historic Adobe Building’s hall and spilled out into its garden. Traditional “papel picado” decorated the adobe walls, and two large and elaborate Dia de los Muertos altars flanked either side of the building’s fireplace. One altar featured large sugar skulls created by students from Crittenden and Graham middle schools. The other, created by the Historical Association, included photos of influential Mountain View pioneers along with images of recently departed loved ones submitted by the community.
The event included two presentations on Mountain View’s Mexican history.
Crisanto Castro, member of the original Mountain View Castro family for whom the city’s main street is named, traced his family’s history back to the Spanish Colonial era and shared personal memories of life on the Castro rancho, where Rengstorff Park is today. Castro displayed a cross given to his family by Junipero Serra, the Spanish priest who founded California’s mission system and was recently canonized as a Catholic saint.
The second presentation highlighted the history of Mountain View’s Club Estrella, co-host of the day’s festivities. Club Estrella’s Katie Montalvo discussed the club’s founding, in 1948, when Mexican-American women living in Mountain View joined forces to help the poor and promote the culture and welfare of their community.
Mountain View historian Nick Perry, the newly elected vice president of the Historical Association, spotlighted the life of Joe Perez, a Club Estrella member who became Mountain View’s first Mexican-American councilmember and mayor in the 1970s. “Plaza de Perez” at the Two Worlds development on El Camino Real is named in his honor.
A celebration of Mexican music and dance followed the presentations. The folkloric dance group Raices de Mexico performed traditional Mexican dances, and Mariachi Tapatio played an hourlong concert.
The Mountain View Historical Association is considering making the event an annual tradition.
“We were thrilled by the community’s response,” Perry said. “It was great to see such a diverse crowd come together to celebrate our city’s Mexican heritage and reflect on the lives of all those who came before.”
For more information on the Mountain View Historical Association, visit mountainviewhistorical.org.
For more information on Club Estrella, visit estrellaclub.com.