The Día de los Muertos celebration in Burien is one of Burien’s most popular events, drawing Burien residents and visitors from around the state to come and celebrate the tradition of honoring and remembering ancestors and family.
The Mexican holiday, translated to “Day of the Dead,” is focused on friends and family gathering together to pray and remember those that have died and helping support their spiritual journey.
Drawing hundreds of people to the Burien Community Center, this event can’t happen without the work of City staff and volunteers. One volunteer, Edgar Lopez-Baez, has been volun- teering at Día de los Muertos for more than five years.
“I knew I wanted to bring some of my Latino culture to the community center. It was very important to me,” said Lopez-Baez. “I always wanted to see more events with people from my culture, so I knew this was a great opportunity to find it.”
Since he’s been volunteering for so long, Lopez-Baez has done a little of everything for the event. He has helped create altars and other fixtures, provided food, assisted with setting up the event, and has gone around the community to spread the word about the event and recruit volunteers. He also began working with Spanish-language radio stations to help promote the event.
The Washington Recreation and Parks Association awarded the Día de los Muertos event a Program Excellence Spotlight award in 2018. Lopez-Baez and Nancy Salguero McKay of the Highline Heritage Museum accepted the award for their outstanding efforts on the event.
“Edgar puts his whole heart into not just this event, but everything he does for Burien,” said Gabbi Gonzales, recreation coordinator for the City of Burien. “With this event and his work in general, he always goes above and beyond. He’s always looking out not just for the Latino community, but the Burien community at large.”
For Lopez-Baez, his passion for the Día de los Muertos event comes from knowing how important this event has become to the families in Burien. “It’s a chance to bring all these families together and show the different cultures that make Burien special,” he said. “It’s all about family and letting people know that we won’t forget our loved ones that have passed.”