On Wednesday, a crowd of more than 2,000 people gathered in the Mission for an annual festival of altars and procession commemorating the Día de Los Muertos Mexican ancestral holiday.

San Francisco natives and visitors alike turned out for the event, which we covered all night here.

Get to know a few of the people who stopped to talk tradition, family, festivities and more.


Karla Rugama


By Alan Toth and Jackeline Luna


Devlin Travis

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Devlin Travis, 8 holds a picture of his late father Richard Travis during the Day of the Dead parade.

Devlin’s parents, Lila (right) and Richard, attended Day of the Dead celebrations in San Francisco from 1989 on. Since losing her husband four years ago, Lila has continued to bring their son to carry on the family ritual.

“I feel like his dad is here with us,” she said. “It’s really important for us. The basis of the event is to share our love and loss with the community.”


Edwin Ayala

Photo by Sonner Kehrt

Photo by Sonner Kehrt

“I do it because it’s a tradition,” Edwin Ayala says as he applies face paint on a Day of the Dead customer outside his store, Diju Jewelry. “I’m a creative person.”

Three years ago, when he started painting faces for the holiday, he says no one else was doing it. He made almost $900 in a single night. Now, he says, there are plenty of face painters. Business is slower, but he doesn’t mind. In fact, he thinks he’ll take next year off.

“I enjoy doing this,” he says. “But I want to enjoy the party.”


Thea Matthews

By Alan Toth and Jackeline Luna


Doctor Wasabi and Duncan Autry

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Doctor Wasabi has been coming to the Day of the Dead celebration for 55 years, but the unique, flower-shaped torch he’s holding has only been a part of his ensemble for the last twenty. What’s fueling the flame?

“That’s a rather personal question,” Wasabi says.

The pair are the only parade participants sporting these matching silver torches, but Wasabi says they’re hardly alone.

“There are many more of us, but we’re the only two who are apparent right now in this time plane.”


Mayra Vazquez

By Alan Toth and Jackeline Luna


Cynthia Aguilar and Emily Vazquez

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Photo by Sawsan Morrar

Cynthia Aguilar, 17, and Emily Vazquez, 12, (far left and left) carry pictures of their uncle and grandfather as they watch the Day of the Dead procession on Mission St with their mothers.

The cousins have been participating in Day of the Dead traditions since they were children living on South Van Ness.

“We always come out every year,” Aguilar said. “My parents always brought me out to these traditions, because it’s important to know where we are from.”