SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Oceanside resident Cedma Navarro has held on to traditions she learned at a young age, including Dia de los Muertos.
"It was a yearly, solemn, and peaceful thing," Navarro said.
Navarro is part of Por Siempre Car Club, a group that has displayed ofrendas (Spanish for “offering”) every year for about a decade at the Oceanside Dia de los Muertos festival. But this year, as they celebrated, Navarro said it was different because ofrendas for many of their family members came too soon.
Over 44% of COVID-19 related deaths in San Diego were of Hispanic or Latino descent.
"So many Latinos have died from COVID, and they wanted a place they can go and meet with other people who have had the same situation," said Navarro.
After months of isolation, Navarro said it was important to bring people together to honor the Dia de los Muertos tradition, even from the trunks of their cars in Oceanside.
"I decided why not blend in traditions into the trunks of the car, and it's becoming more meaningful to everyone because some people don't have a special place to make their ofrendas," Navarro stated.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales is also a big advocate for the tradition.
"It really is a time to reflect on those who have passed and remember them," said Gonzales, who helped organize the 2nd Annual Dia de los Muertos altar and ceremony at the San Diego County Administration Building this year.
"If we can provide a positive aspect to remember loved ones, and also to remind ourselves how deadly this disease is, then we will do that," Gonzales stated.
Meanwhile, Navarro believes anyone, no matter their background, can find healing through the Mexican tradition.
"It's tough the first year, but as years progress, it does become a healing process, and you feel like they're there with you,” said Navarro.