With several hundred people pouring onto Main Street in downtown Lake Elsinore late Saturday afternoon for the merchants along the historic route were all smiles.
“In the 10 years that I’ve been here, this is the busiest night I’ve ever had,” said Vicki Mora, owner of Mora’s Antiques on Main Street.
The artisan shop was crowded with people Saturday and the cash register was ringing.
“This is a very positive event for this city,” she said in between customers.
Mora’s son Chad is an artist who specializes in Day of the Dead works. He has a gallery in the back of his mom’s store and said, “I’ve sold quite a few pieces tonight.”
Kimberly Ryan, owner of Tulips, Trophies and Treasures on Main Street, echoed the Mora family’s comments.
“We’ve had people come from all over. Can you imagine what this is going to turn into next year? It’s really a dream extreme.”
The restaurants along Main Street were also bustling, and Flour Fusion's Denise Gross said her traffic was definitely up.
Indeed, the historic district was sizzling with energy as children received free face paintings and elaborately decorated Day of the Dead sugar skulls. Parents watched live performers play traditional and contemporary music, and there was even some dancing along the sidewalks. [See attached photo gallery for a view of Saturday's sights.]
Vidal Leon traveled to the event from Murrieta with his family. In addition to his wife and their baby, Leon brought his parents, siblings and other family members – 11 altogether.
“It’s very festive,” he said, with his wife adding, “It’s a very good first attempt.”
For the event organizers, Saturday's high turnout was a complete surprise.
“I am just blown away,” said Grace Sandlin of Studio 395, the organization that, along with the Downtown Merchants Association, pulled the event together.
Studio 395 is an ad hoc group of local artists and supporters working to promote the arts in Lake Elsinore.
Sandlin said she had no idea what to expect Saturday.
“It was mostly all word of mouth,” she said of advertising efforts. “I never expected this. It’s been a ball of fire.”
Sandlin contends the city is home to many artists, and she hopes the local arts scene will continue to grow.
“It’s been a bunch of dry grass waiting for a match,” she said.
Day of the Dead, otherwise known as Dia de los Muertos, is a traditional Mexican holiday to honor loved ones who have passed. It is celebrated Nov. 1 and is a national holiday in Mexico.
Along with Day of the Dead art, dancers and musicians, Saturday's event also featured community altars where people could bring pictures or mementos of loved ones to be displayed for the evening.
Click here to read more about the event. For more information about Studio 395, call 951-805-0241.