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Day of the Dead Altars Take Over La Villita During 4th Annual Muertos Fest 

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On a cloudy day last Friday where the sun periodically peeked out from the sky, artists were busy at La Villita preparing altars for Muertos Fest's contest. Completed altars were tightly wrapped in plastic and held together with strategically placed strips of tape.

It was a race to beat the rain, which would shut the festival down on Saturday. However, by Sunday afternoon the clouds parted the temperatures dropped and it finally felt like fall was in the air as San Antonio's first Dia de los Muertos celebration captured the city in La Villita.

This year's winners include Diana Arguellas, who took first place in the cash competition for her altar honoring her late great-grandmother Candelaria Zuñiga. Griselda Flores took the second place spot with a seven-leveled altar honoring actor and comedian Roberto Gómez Bolaños, a.k.a. Chespirito, who died in November 2014. In the student category, the Anne Frank Inspire Academy took top honor for an altar remembering grandparents. Lastly, Stevens High School Art Club won the popular vote in the public online competition by featuring "The Queen of Tejano Music," Selena.

However, there was no shortage of beautiful altars this year and it's wonderful that the event wasn't completely rained out so people could enjoy the hard work and thought all the participants put into their altars.

What follows is a selection of photographs of altars taken Friday afternoon before the weekend rain rolled through the Alamo City.

click to enlarge BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss
click to enlarge BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss

Honoring Selena

By: Stevens High School Art Club

Featuring a wooden dance floor with white roses formed from sheet music, framing a sequined Selena, the Stevens High School Art Club created an interactive altar serenaded by "The Queen of Tejano Music." The piece encourages onlookers to bust a move while celebrating Selena's life, memory and the joy she brought into the lives of millions.

click to enlarge BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss

Honoring the 200 defenders of the Alamo

By: Monica Ramos

This one is a shout out to the world. Prominently featuring a skeleton Davy Crocket next to a cannon, Monica Ramos's altar was impacted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization granted World Heritage status to the Alamo and four other San Antonio World Heritage site — the first in Texas and 23rd in the U.S., Ramos — last year's winner — said in her entry summary that it was only fitting to celebrate Dia de los Muertos with an altar dedicated to the defenders of the Alamo.

click to enlarge BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss

Honoring Maestro Vaticano Soto Brigham

By: Liz Soto Brigham

After returning from a pilgrimage to Vatican City, Liz Soto Brigham received a Christmas present that changed her world perspective. Maestro, a holiday gift from years past died in March. "The little guy taught me that everything can be redone, repurchased or replaced," she said, after placing jasmine at the base of several bamboo columns — a plant in her backyard that Maestro enjoyed playing in. The altar incorporates all the elements of Maestro's recipe for life. The altar has gifts of thanks to all those who knew Maestro. With an array of twinkling lights representing angels in heaven flickering, Brigham said, "Now he's our guardian angel."

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Honoring the freedom fighters of the Alamo

By: Jose M. Ontiveros

Jose M. Ontiveros said remembering those who died at the Alamo is fitting because, after all, this is San Antonio. "I thought about it and they are special people who died for a good cause," Ontiveros said. While admitting that the Texas government wasn't that great toward Tejanos, and that the Mexican government also wasn't really good, Ontiveros said the people who died were just regular folks, for the most part. "We all have bad and good," Ontiveros said with a smile.

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