OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — A Día de los Muertos celebration in Oceanside is being overshadowed by an incident involving an event volunteer and a local street vendor caught on cell phone video.
The video, taken by a 16-year-old at the event and posted to TikTok and Instagram, now has over a million views. The teen and her mom spoke to ABC 10News anonymously Tuesday night.
The mother and daughter both said they were at the celebration Sunday afternoon when they noticed the commotion. The event is organized and hosted by Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos, a nonprofit organization.
The video shows a street vendor and his ice cream cart and a woman in a utility vest, who was later identified as a volunteer of the event. The video doesn’t show what led up to the exchange, but part of the confrontation is heard on the footage, including a woman saying, "This is public property but I paid for this event. I did, me.” The vendor responds multiple times by saying, "I’m leaving."
The woman is seen holding and pushing the cart, surrounded by others trying to help. ABC 10News blurred her face since she's not suspected of any crime.
Community advocates connected ABC 10News to the vendor, who told ABC 10News over the phone his name is Jose. He said he found the event on his way to sell at the beach and decided to check it out.
He said he didn’t have a permit to sell at the event and didn’t know the event required one, and told ABC 10News he was welcomed inside by attendees when he showed up. He says he tried to leave when the woman confronted him.
In a statement posted to the event’s website, the volunteer, who identifies herself as Cathy, apologized and said she takes "full responsibility for her actions at the festival." She added that that she’s "extremely remorseful and embarrassed" and she is "very sorry for how this affected festival guests."
Late Tuesday, the Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos said in a release posted to their website they're aware of the video circulating and are reviewing the facts.
In an email minutes before ABC 10News' broadcast Tuesday night, they sent the following statement:
“We would like to extend our sincerest apologies for the situation concerning the removal of an unlicensed and unpermitted ice cream vendor at our event. We fully acknowledge that this matter should have been handled better and we deeply regret any distress or inconvenience caused to both the vendor and our valued attendees.
We recognize that we made a mistake in our handling of the situation, and we take full responsibility for our actions. As a nonprofit organization run by a diverse group of volunteers we are committed to promoting our community's cultural diversity while ensuring public safety, we understand the importance of following proper procedures and regulations.
Rest assured that lessons have been learned from this incident. Moving forward, we will take immediate steps to reassess our vendor management protocols, enhance our communication between all stakeholders, and enforce stricter adherence to licensing and permitting regulations. By doing so, we aim to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we will also be conducting an internal review of our processes and policies to ensure that we uphold the highest standards in event management and execution.
Once again, we deeply apologize for our handling of the situation and for any negative impact it may have had. We appreciate your understanding, patience, and ongoing support as we work diligently to rectify the situation and improve our practices.”
There is now a planned community event on Thursday to address vendor respect, make resources accessible to them, and push for changes in policies involving street vending. The event is outside the Oceanside Public Library on Thursday, October 26th, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
ABC 10News did reach out to the city about the upcoming event on Thursday and is waiting to hear back.