Creative Community ~ Charlotte Hajer

Charlotte Hajer Charlotte Hajer is the executive director of the Sonoma Community Center.


Life affirming… and a little bit scary

Posted on October 15, 2022 by Charlotte Hajer

One great way to boost our collective creativity as a community is to revel in the rich cultural diversity and creativity that already exists here in the Valley. Thankfully, Día de los Muertos is coming up early next month, and there are lots of ways to join in on the celebration. 

I’ve always enjoyed Día de Muertos. I appreciate its lessons: that death is a part of life, and that our departed loved ones are never really “lost” so long as we remember them. Halloween turns death into something scary (as fun as that can be) – but from the vantage point of Día de los Muertos, death becomes something life-affirming, something we can celebrate. 

And so in addition to trick or treating, this year I’ll be taking my kids (and their Minecraft costumes) to all the various Día de Muertos celebrations around town. There’s lots to choose from.

On October 29 from 5:30 to 9 pm, Hanna will be hosting a free community night to celebrate both Halloween and Día de los Muertos, featuring a screening of the movie Coco (in English with Spanish subtitles). Register at, bring your family and friends, and pack a picnic to enjoy the evening; costumes are encouraged. 

Then, on November 1, Art Escape will be hosting its 8th annual Día de Muertos celebration. In preparation for the event, they encourage community members to bring their ofrendas to add to the Art Escape altar. The event itself will be a night of celebration for people of all ages and backgrounds. There will be family-friendly art activities, like sugar skull decorating, and participants will be able to enjoy delicious traditional Mexican food and drinks. 

The Sonoma Community Center will be celebrating Día de Muertos in a few different ways. Come see community altars on display in the upstairs gallery, open now through early November – and then join us for the annual Altar-Lighting Ceremony on November 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, featuring entertainment by Grupo Folklórico Quetzalén, Mariachi Torres, and Aztec dancers who will perform a traditional blessing and purification ritual. The Center’s 16-foot public altar, which you’ll find on the front lawn, will include photos and mementoes of loved ones contributed by community members. If you’d like to have one of your loved ones included, you can reach out to Angie Sanchez at [email protected]

On November 2, join La Luz Center for their Día de los Muertos in Pátzcuaro celebration, featuring altars, arts and crafts, food, educational zones, entertainment, and more. You can RSVP online at 

And finally, last but not least, Vida Cultural Arts will be hosting a community-wide Día de los Muertos Celebration on Sonoma Plaza on Sunday, November 6. The event will showcase community altars, a mercadito, as well as delicious food and fun entertainment. A call for altar makers and mercadito vendors is posted; you can reach out to Vida Cultural Arts for more information. 

I hope to see you at one or more of these events!


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA