"Oceanside has its own cultural diversity, unique and wonderful.  The only city that I have ever lived in where every culture lives together.  I love that I learn something new here every day.  This event is just another way to show how we can learn about the historical story that is brought back to life at the Oceanside Dia de los Muertos Festival.  The decoration and historical events here can be shared, adopted or modified anywhere in the world, by any race religion or culture to honor their ancestors.  Why wouldn’t we want to ensure that everyone is invited to see what a wonderful festival it is."

Cathy Nykiel, President


A Non-profit organization.


Purpose:  To promote, educate and conserve the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos and its importance to a diversified community.

Meetings:  Monthly the first Monday of the Month at 5pm.  Due to the holidays, a specific date will be set in May and June at the April meeting.


The Festival of Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the dead, the interaction between the living and the dead and the cycle of life. This view of death started with Mesoamerican cultures more than 3,000 years ago. From Mexico to Nicaragua, societies believed that at this time of year the boundaries separating the living and the dead weakened, and the deceased could visit the living. Unlike the Spaniards who viewed death as an end, they saw it is as a continuation of life. Instead of fearing death, they embraced it. Life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake. Traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the holiday varies from region to region and also by degree of urbanization. In small towns of Mexico a candlelight procession to a cemetery is held by most families on the eve of the celebration. Family members decorate grave sites with flowers and enjoy a meal. Offerings are brought to dead loved ones and include their favorite foods, beverages, toys and personal belongings. Family members may also spend the night and share the memory of their loved ones by telling stories about them.


Many Mexican immigrants bring these traditions and now share them in Día de los Muertos Festivals throughout the United States. The commemoration is not mournful but rather a time to share with family and friends. Some people attend because they are curious, and others just want to have a good time.


Many families celebrated Dia de los Muertos in Oceanside prior to the event’s beginning in Oceanside.


 In 2000, MainStreet Oceanside was granted its official status to be an organization.  Their footprint would be the Downtown area of Oceanside.  At inception, the organization was looking to develop cultural awareness in Oceanside.  With many partners, they were able to start a celebration in Downtown that grew from 2000 to 2008.


 In 2006, Cathy Nykiel was the MainStreet Oceanside Event Coordinator and coordinated the festival in the Downtown from 2006-2008. 


In 2009, this event was moved from Downtown Oceanside to Mission San Luis Rey with the assistance of Event Coordinator, Cathy Nykiel who developed and managed the event that year.  She and Maureen Sullivan got a lot of continued support from the many community businesses, artists, and everyone who is now a part of the Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos to assist each year.  Since then the community partners, 90% of them volunteers, the festival have grown to make it what it is today.  A Team effort by all to continue the tradition.


From 2010 to 2015, Mission San Luis Rey and their staff were the host and presenters of the event.  Maureen ran the event.  Cathy, Cedma & Manuel, David, Isela, Marleen, Beecher and Chris along with numerous community businesses and volunteers assisted each year with the event. 


In 2016, A group of individuals from Oceanside took over the Festival working with Mission San Luis Rey to keep it on their grounds.  Chema and Manuel from Por Siempre Car Club came in to assist with the festival and continue the Car Show.  Isela Gutierrez assisted with entertainment and volunteers.  Marleen Alegria and Chris Gow assisted as the all-around volunteers. Beecher Young assisted with all of the equipment, maintenance and all around go to for technical advisement.  Maureen Sullivan assisted with flowers, volunteers and with her vast knowledge of the mission, the overall setup and coordination.  David Lozeau continued with his vast artistic ability with posters, art and more.  A solid Team to make the event continue.


In 2018, Friends of Oceanside Dia de Los Muertos was developed by those individuals (the now Friends of Oceanside Dia de Los Muertos Board) who have had an intimate part of the event since 2006 or earlier.


Mission San Luis Rey has been the host of the festival since 2009. 


In 2019, Friends of Oceanside Dia de Los Muertos decided to plan to move the event back to its original location where the roots of the festival were developed, Downtown Oceanside for its 20th Annual year.  This would take some planning to ensure that all of the traditional factors of the event are included. 


In 2020, the 20th Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival will be hosted by Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos in Downtown Oceanside.

Friends of Oceanside Dia de los Muertos is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered with the IRS.

If you wish to participate as part of the Board, on a Committee, Volunteer or have questions, contact us at:


Cathy Nykiel, President

Friends of Dia de los Muertos




Cathy Nykiel, President

Isela Talamantes, Vice President

Chris Gow, Secretary

Cedma Navarro, Treasurer

Marleen Alegria, Director at Large

Manuel Navarro, Director at Large

Beecher Young, Director at Large

Maureen Sullivan, Director at Large

David Lozeau, Director at Large

Miguel Blanco, Director at Large