Yakima Herald Republic
YAKIMA, Wash. — Some of the items on the Dia de los Muertos altar that Alex Santillanes’ wife and daughter built in his honor are just what you’d expect — community service plaques, odds and ends from his decades of anti-gang activism, a photo of the 1947 Cadillac he famously entered in local car shows.
Then there are other things, things that show a side of the longtime Yakima Latino activist that only his family knew. Candy, for instance. Santillanes, who died of cancer earlier this month at 73, loved candy. So his wife, Virginia Santillanes, and daughter, Monica Sanchez, made sure to leave him some.
“At our granddaughter’s wedding, they had all of this candy, and we had to tell the kids, ‘No, you can’t have candy yet,’ ” Virginia said with a hint of a laugh. “Then (Alex) came and took it. We have a photo from the wedding of him eating the candy.”
That sort of personal touch is characteristic of the best Dia de los Muertos altars in the Yakima-Morelia Sister City Association’s annual display. There are 28 altars this year, the celebration’s 10th. Some are idiosyncratic and personal, such as those honoring specific dead friends and family members. Others, such as the one built by the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and another built by the Chicano studies class at Yakima Valley Community College, are more general.
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