It was difficult maneuvering through the packed hall of guests in OT’s Steakhouse.
A packed hall in the back of OT’s Steakhouse on November 13th around 6:20pm was decked from the reflective ceiling with cascading Christmas lights over a crowd of dapper attendees waited on by attentive student volunteers.
Attendees were rife with conversation echoing through the hall as dinner was being served. They enjoyed Chardonnay with a dinner of pork and potatoes as they awaited the commencement of the program honoring Taft College alumni and former staff–heroes of a tightly knit Taft community.
This year, Taft College celebrated its 95th year with a banquet honoring the hometown legends that have carried the legacy of Taft College into remarkable lives of success and significance.
Among the many inductees to be honored for the evening, Andy Baroncelli was the first to share his gratitude for the award and stories of the old days, setting the communal theme of the evening.
Kanoe Bandy embraces Baroncelli after introducing him.
“We always stood with good posture and we conducted ourselves in front of all representing this college with respect” says Baroncelli of the high-caliber conduct displayed by the athletes of his heyday at Taft College. He’s led an amazing life, playing football at USC and then briefly for the NFL. Most of his life he has been a civil engineer and a member of the US Naval Reserve. Having been awarded with an induction for Outstanding Male Athlete, he accredits much of his success to the “family” that he found at Taft College as did many other alumni in their acceptance speeches for the evening.
Cothrun is honored with a plaque for his induction in the Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Administrator
Dr. David Cothrun, who was honored with an Outstanding Administrator award, explains honestly to the crowd about how he and his wife ended up in Taft: “When my wife and I decided we’d retire somewhere, it wasn’t Taft, California,” he says. “It was New Mexico, where you can see through the air for about 90 miles straight.” The crowd laughs and cringes a bit in response to this comment about the polluted air for which Taft and Bakersfield are known. “But it’s the people here,” Cothrun goes on, “that make this place a great place to live and I’m glad to be here. Thank you.” Dr. Cothrun was honored as a Distinguished Administrator for his service as Taft College president from 1980-2001, and during his career, he established and helped establish several programs that have been instrumental to student success. Such programs include TC’s Dental Hygiene Program, the Westside Energy Services and Training Education Center (WESTEC), and the Transition to Independent Living Program.
Dr. Loretta Lipscomb presents her acceptance speech to the crowd.
He received this most prestigious award along with Dr. Garcia Loretta Lipscomb, who said that “Taft College was an extremely important part of my educational journey and I am very grateful.” Dr. Lipscomb was an instructor and librarian at Taft College for many years before she made history by becoming the first woman and the first Hispanic to achieve an upper level, academic administrative position when hired as the Vice President of Instruction. For 30 years she served as a leader, educator, and an innovator in the Taft College community, and this reporter has her to thank especially for introducing the Distance Learning Program which has been responsible for many crucial academic credits in my own ‘educational journey.’
Bob Hampton tells the crowd about how his success in life has always been related to his time at TC.
Another distinguished career educator, Bob Hampton, shares his gratitude with the audience: “It’s really an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.” Hampton was a strong basketball player for Taft College for a year and was awarded a scholarship to play for USC where he played for 3 years while earning a Master’s Degree in education. He then enjoyed a long and successful career in public education, basketball coaching, and a new chapter of success in the sanitation business starting in 1979. He has many accolades from various schools and business organizations for his successes. He says, “Whatever success I’ve had, in my opinion, there’s some connection to TC.”
Ron Coomer is a Fox Network sports broadcaster and former professional baseball player for the Chicago Cubs that has TC roots.
Ron Coomer’s speech was particularly funny. In regards to a photo projected of him on the screen of himself when he was much younger, he said, “I’m heavy now. I don’t know what the hell happened to that guy in the picture.” The audience roared with laughter. Toward the end of his lengthy speech about his remarkable career as a professional baseball player that led to his current position as a Fox Network sports broadcaster, he became very emotional when he shared the sentiment, broken by tears: “My father would be very proud.” He humbly accepted his induction.
The crowd applauses Dr. Cothrun as he makes his way to the stage.
Every person who grabbed the mic for the evening had entertaining, hilarious, and/or deeply moving stories to share with the audience about the honorary guests themselves and the familial culture of the Taft College they grew up with. Kanoe Bandy reports that her favorite part of the evening’s banquet was also “to hear the stories of how Taft College has affected the lives of so many young people. For them to come back and share their stories with us is awesome.” Bandy, the athletic director at Taft College, was in charge of the event and stayed busy for the evening. When asked about how difficult it was to organize the event, she said, “It’s a lot of work and it takes work from everybody involved. It’s a long process.”
Bandy was busy all night, emceeing and facilitating the event with the help of athletes from TC.
The last honorees of the night were the collective powerhouse 1984 Taft College Football Team. This group demonstrated some of the highest appreciation for the late, great Coach Al Baldock. Baldock was inducted last year. Doug Wells worked alongside him to lead the Cougars to victory in the renowned 1984 Potato Bowl against LA Pierce–a victory that solidified their number one ranking among college community football teams.
A few members of the 1984 Taft College football team that were honored at the end of the night.
According to the CDC breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, and additionally, one in a thousand men will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
What is breast cancer?
“Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancerous) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.”
Things you may not have known about breast cancer:
Though the exact cause of breast cancer remains unclear, there have been many studies that have shown that women who eat red meat are more at risk for developing breast cancer later in life.
A Harvard study reference: “We found that women who ate the most red meat in adolescence or early adulthood had an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life. One serving a day increment in red meat intake during adolescence was associated with a 22% higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer and each serving per day increment during early adulthood was associated with a 13% higher risk of breast cancer overall. Those who ate more poultry during the same period had a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Of course, red meat is not the only risk factor for breast cancer. And this is an observational study, so we could not say that eating red meat was the only reason these women got cancer. But our analysis took into account most of the known breast cancer risk factors, and we adjusted for smoking, alcohol intake, age, hormone therapy, and oral contraceptive use. Still, red meat was one of the important breast cancer risk factors.”
Other studies have also linked breast cancer with alcohol consumption according to Cancer.org.
“Drinking alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who have one alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk.”
When picking your methods of birth control you may want to take into account the amount of hormones used in said contraception. “Women have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer while they’re taking birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin and during the 10 years after they stop taking the pills. Progestin-only pills also increased risk, but not as much Aug 5, 2014 Breastcancer.org.”
The CDC’s fast facts:
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women.
About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
Breast cancer symptoms:
Often many do not have any symptoms at all. However, if you notice a change of the shape of your breast or any abnormal lumps or bumps that have developed over time, pain, or discharge from the nipple- See your doctor as soon as possible!
The Story of the Survivor (My Mom)
How do you keep the fear of it coming back under control?
Jean Renaker: “First and foremost, my Christian belief helps a great deal. I also take a lot of comfort from the fact that I take every precaution to be responsible with my health. I don’t drink or smoke- I exercise. I am careful with my red meat intake, and I stay informed. Other than that I don’t waste time worrying about something that I cannot control.”
How long ago were you diagnosed?
Jean Renaker: “Almost 14 years ago. I had been scratched by a rabbit and thought that that was the source of my discomfort. -As did my physician and all the rest of my health care providers because I was young, very healthy, and had no family history of any kind of cancer. I was wrong and so were they.”
What was the hardest part about hearing that diagnosis?
Jean Renaker: “Hearing the diagnosis wasn’t really the hard part, you’re just in shock. The hardest part for me was having very young children that I might not get to see grow up.” How often do you think about cancer in your daily life?
Jean Renaker: “I think about it as it pertains to other people and their risk. I don’t think about it in personal terms any more, and I have not for a long time. It’s an illness I had. It’s not my identity. The exception to this would be having you tested to see if you have the BRCA1 gene.”
What was your support system?
Jean Renaker: “I read a crazy statistic somewhere that said that 70 percent of husbands leave their wives when they’re diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know if that’s true. I hope that it’s not. It makes me very sad. I was very blessed that your dad was a great source of strength and my oncologist Rabi Patel (Founding Physician of CBCC).”
How were you treated?
“I had a radical mastectomy. My lymph nodes were clear of cancer and my margins were clean- so I optioned not to do chemotherapy because I had two young children and I did not want to compromise my immune system and be laid out flat for six months unless there was still cancer in my body.”
Anything you’d like to add?
“It’s always hard. But it’s not always negative. By that I mean that the sky is bluer for me than it is for many other people. Stupid things don’t seem so earth shattering. To be honest with you, most days I forget that I ever overcame cancer. I’m glad I did.”
It all began after zoology class when I felt as though something had bitten my hand. Nothing drastic, perhaps just a small ant. Much like any other time I had been bitten, over the course of a couple of hours, a minuscule bump had began to surface. A day went by, and the “bite” felt more sensitive than painful. Taking a closer look at the little, red, angry, mark, I started thinking that perhaps a small hair on my hand was ingrown and irritated. I didn’t pay much attention to it following that thought until my hand started having sharp pains.
Again, I assumed that it would all blow over.
I had a history of bug bites being larger than life in the past, so when the bump on my hand became the size of a dime, I wasn’t too concerned at that point. I had rescued feral kittens from underneath a bush the same day that I had Lytle’s science lab, so I started questioning whether or not this “ant bite” was truly an ant bite.
In Bakersfield, not many spiders are poisonous enough to cause the symptoms that I was having. My mom immediately began giving me antibiotics as a precaution, along with the basic care of Neosporin.
The bump, now a boil, was tomato red and so painful that I was unable to rest my hand without a rush of what I’d describe as nerve pain and throbbing. Things didn’t seem to be getting any better, and actually, were getting quite worse. My family and I started questioning whether or not I had a staph infection.
My mom rushed me to the doctor, and the nurse let out a gasp when I exposed my hand from underneath the bandages. Lincy Maliyekkal, FNP said that without a doubt, it was a pretty nasty staph infection and perhaps even MRSA.
At this point I was a little too familiar with what MRSA was and how significant it could be. I must admit that I spent a little too much time internet surfing on WebMD and reading personal testimonies (all of which were horrifying). I practically was under the impression that I was going to lose my hand which was sounding as though it was a possibility.
Using a scalpel, she took a culture which was a whole ordeal in itself due to the fact that I am absolutely terrified of needles or the thought of anything cutting into me while I’m conscious. I was told that I had to wait a number of days to hear the results.
She gave me a prescription of Bactrim in order to treat MRSA in the mean time and a heavy duty prescription of pain medication. Aside from the two shots that I unwillingly received in my buttocks (definitely not winning the best patient award).
I was fortunate enough to avoid the ER which originally had brought me to tears because they had really wanted to send me there.
After a few days, the boil on my hand was not getting any better, so they had to lance and pack it.
Again, an almost comedic visit to the doctor’s office, full of crying, panicking, and vomiting (my mom due to the great amount of distress I had caused her- as I was crying out for everyone to stop continuing on with the procedure).
Unfortunately and to my dismay, I was unable to be numbed for this occasion as I had nerve damage- apart from my nerves being “so inflamed that no amount of anesthesia would make it so that I wouldn’t be able to feel what was going on.” Translation: this was going to hurt BADLY. Oh, and boy, did it!
The final results came back some time after, and it turns out that I was positive for MRSA.
Mrs. Maliyekkal went on to inform us that she believed I had been bitten by a black widow that carried MRSA and thus this all transpired.
She also said something very interesting that I’d love to pass on: “Bakersfield/Kern County is number one for community MRSA. It’s not uncommon that I see patients that come with it.”
So what is MRSA? How do you know if you have MRSA? Is it life threatening? How can you prevent MRSA? Who is prone to getting MRSA?
MRSA AND ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant many used antibiotics.
MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It’s now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other common antibiotics. While some antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly adapting. Researchers developing new antibiotics are having a tough time keeping up.
“MRSA can cause a variety of problems ranging from are skin infections and sepsis to pneumonia to bloodstream infections” (CDC).
Community-associated MRSA infections (CA-MRSA) are MRSA infections in healthy people who have not been hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis or surgery) within the past year.
“Anyone can get MRSA on their body from contact with an infected wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin. MRSA infection risk can be increased when a person is in activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact, and shared equipment or supplies. People including athletes, daycare and school students, military personnel in barracks, and those who recently received inpatient medical care are at higher risk” (CDC).
Sometimes, people with MRSA skin infections first think they have a spider bite. However, unless a spider is actually seen, the irritation is likely not a spider bite. Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:
Warm to the touch
Full of pus or other drainage
Accompanied by a fever
What Should I Do If I See These Symptoms?
If you or someone in your family experiences these signs and symptoms, cover the area with a bandage, wash your hands, and contact your doctor. It is especially important to contact your doctor if signs and symptoms of an MRSA skin infection are accompanied by a fever.
What Should I do if I Think I Have a Skin Infection?
You can’t tell by looking at the skin if it is a staph infection (including MRSA).
Contact your doctor if you think you have an infection. Finding infections early and getting care make it less likely that the infection will become severe.
Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Cover possible infections with clean, dry bandages until you can be seen by a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider.
How To Prevent Spreading MRSA
Cover your wounds. Keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Follow your doctor’s instructions about proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain MRSA so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages and tape can be thrown away with the regular trash. Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Clean your hands often. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.
Do not share personal items. Personal items include towels, washcloths, razors and clothing, including uniforms.
Wash used sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent. Use a dryer to dry them completely.
Wash clothes according to manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Clean your hands after touching dirty clothes.
All information verified by the CDC: Https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/
Breaking the day’s political tone, Diane Keaton gave attendees of the Bakersfield Business Conference something else to digest: Love.
For those who were hungry for politics, this shift came as a total surprise. Several made their way out of the main tent, while countless fans cheered out of respect and admiration for the leading lady as she entered the stage.
Keaton, an award winning actress, smiled as she recalled the many “kinds of love” that she’s experienced throughout her life, love that grows and changes. She spoke of the importance of loving and valuing yourself, and with that you can achieve anything.
“I chose my dream, and you know what? My dream came true,” Keaton said.
Ending her speech, Keaton delighted the crowd by singing a few lines from the song “Seems Like Old Times,” which she sang in her performance in “Annie Hall.”
“Seems like old times
“Dinner dates and flowers
“Just like old times
“Staying up for hours
“Making dreams come true
“Doing things we used to do
“Seems like old times
“Being here with you.”
Keaton is an actress, writer, director and producer. In addition to her Oscar win for her role in “Annie Hall,” Keaton has garnered 23 award nominations and 17 wins.
The lead in the 1977 film “Annie Hall” was Keaton’s breakout role and had been written expressly for her by the movie’s director, Woody Allen. This role was based on her real-life personality and created using Keaton’s nickname, Annie, and real last name, Hall. Keaton went on to mesmerize Hollywood and audiences throughout the country with her quirky personality and fashion sense.
“Annie Hall” was not her first role, however. She had her first starring role in the Broadway play “Hair.” Her first movie role was in “Lovers and Other Strangers.” But it was with the play “Play It Again, Sam,” that Keaton received a Tony nomination and began a record of award-winning performances, including many directed by Woody Allen.
The first of several starring roles in films directed by Woody Allen was her performance in the screen adaptation of “Play It Again, Sam.” She later went on to star in the Allen films “Sleeper,” “Interiors,” “Radio Days,” “Manhattan,” “Love and Death,” and “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”
Although comedy was where Keaton experienced most of her initial success, she did earn a Golden Globe nomination for the thriller “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” In that same year, she received an Oscar for “Annie Hall,” which also won an Oscar for Best Picture. Keaton later starred in the movie “Reds,” for which she received another Oscar nomination, and again stepped outside of the comedy genre to star in the 1984 film “The Little Drummer Girl” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “The Godfather: Part III.”
But she returned to her comedy roots alongside Steve Martin in films like “Father of the Bride”
and its sequel, “Father of the Bride Part II,” as well as by starring alongside Bette Midler in
“The First Wives Club” and Jack Nicholson in “Something’s Gotta Give.”
Keaton began directing with the documentary film “Heaven.” She went on to direct other projects such as the acclaimed movie “Unstrung Heroes” and an episode of the cult classic TV show “Twin Peaks,” as well as several music videos.
Over the entirety of her career, Keaton has appeared in more than 50 films, television shows, and plays. Today, she continues to act, write and direct with an appeal that spans generations.
Bakersfield’s first USA Track & Field organization’s certified full marathon, half marathon, 2-person half-marathon relay, and 5k run was held on Nov 13. More than 1,500 participants from Kern County and other parts California came together to experience this fun event.
This isn’t the first marathon that has been held in Kern County. The Golden Empire Marathons were 26.2-mile runs that were held in the 1980s. But this is the first year for the new Bakersfield Marathon & Half Marathon, and Kern County is hoping to make this an annual world class event. Being USATF-certified means that the Bakersfield run is a Boston Marathon-qualifier.
The marathon was supposed to start at 6 a.m., but was delayed for more than an hour. The reason behind the delay was because the KRC Safety Company, the company that the city contracted for the marathon, had to reposition the barriers and roadblocks they had set up. There was also a car crash at one of the intersections that the runners had to cross.
The course started at California State University, Bakersfield, and took the runners through downtown Bakersfield, the Stockdale Financial District, and several more iconic Bakersfield neighborhoods. The finish line was located on the Kern River Parkway Bike Trail across from CSUB near Finish Line Bikes. Mile markers were present across the course for runners to rehydrate and rest if they wanted to.
Many vendors were present for the race and were located on CSUB’s campus. Participants and spectators were encouraged to relax after the race and enjoy the food and drink that were being sold. Massage tables were even established for the participants that completed the marathon.
The fastest time for the full marathon was 2 hours, 43 minutes, and 46 seconds, and belonged to Fresno resident Jose Campos.
“This was a really fun event to participate in because I was able to run with all of my friends,” said a runner that participated in the half marathon. “I hope to run the next one with my family and maybe attempt to run the entire 26 miles.”
It was a weekend of bacon and beer in Bakersfield.
The second annual Bacon and Craft Festival returned on Nov. 12. at Riverwalk Park. Up to about 30 local restaurants supported the festival along with 50 craft brewers serving drinks. One restaurant called “Don Pepes Mariscos” served bacon wrapped shrimp and jalapenos, they also poured patrons specialty spicy beverages. The employees working in the booths performed at an extraordinary pace so the lines were almost non-existent.
Lengthwise brewery has participated in local craft festivals over the years. Their reputation derives through their creativity such as brewing locally known beverages and ecstatic pub food. Lengthwise offered patrons some samples of pulled pork sliders, macaroni and cheese with bacon bits, and a choice of spicy or barbecue sauce. Those that were thirsty were treated with Lengthwise’s assortment of beverages.
Another local brewery called “Dionysus” made their presence known at the festival. During the summer the people of Dionysus opened their doors and have since been on the move to provide monthly flavors to satisfy local needs. The employees of Dionysus greeted festival goers with samples and provided information about their brewing techniques. Although they did not have bacon samples, Dionysus did provide a welcoming environment.
Last fall, Bakersfield witnessed the opening of its new local brewery called Temblor. Local restaurants and gas stations have taken notice of Temblor by selling their beverages. Lengthwise and Dionysus are also known locations to serve Temblor drinks. This is the second year that Temblor has participated in the Bacon and Craft Festival. Although they too did not serve bacon products, fans of the brewery lined up for their specialty drinks. One of the favorite beverages called “Under a blood orange sky” was described to have a smooth citrus taste. The beverage itself was dubbed as “refreshing” by the locals waiting in line.
Bacon and craft drinks were not the only highlight of the event. Under the 75-degree weather, festival goers saw themselves participating in over-sized activities. Connect 4 players tried stacking their Frisbee-sized black or red markers in either a straight line or diagonal pattern. CornHole players consisted of two teams with the objective of throwing sacks into an elevated ramp with a hole; often players would stack their sacks on the surface of the board to score more points.
Tensions grew as games often got intense. Thankfully the games echoed with the groans of people painfully congratulating another skilled player followed by a handshake.
One popular destination at the festival was the bacon bar. One could imagine that such a spot would consist of bacon flavored beverages filling the cups of thirsty patrons. Unfortunately the bacon bar did not have the flavored beverage, but they did hand out substantial amounts of bacon strips. If it’s one lesson that the bacon bar has taught anyone it’s that society takes bacon for granted and often we cry at breakfast whenever bacon strips shrink. Sadness was eradicated by the sight of bacon and the Bakersfield Bacon and Craft Festival has brought a community together for the love of bacon.
Last month, Taft local Sara Bravo opened Yogolicious, a brand new self-serve frozen yogurt shop in town.
Owner Sara Bravo (right) and her sister-in-law.
Located at 428 Center Street, the store offers fifteen different flavors of yogurt and a plethora of toppings. Customers may choose from different container sizes, dispense their choices of yogurt flavors, and then proceed to the topping bar to add their favorite syrups, fruits, nuts, and/or candies. The cost for each treat is determined by the weight in ounces.
Yogolicious also circulates special limited time flavors such as pumpkin pie frozen yogurt. Additionally, they offer stamp cards that allow you to collect a stamp for every $5 spent. Once 10 stamps are earned, customers are offered a free “Froyo Loco.”
Proud to have Taft roots, Bravo has lived here for the past eleven years and is a Taft High graduate from the class of 2003.
“Five years ago, I first went into a self-serve frozen yogurt shop and thought, ‘This is it!’” Bravo, who has always wanted to start a business, said of her inspiration to open Yogolicious. She also explained that upon realizing that “Taft doesn’t have something like this,” frozen yogurt further seemed like an opportune venture for her to pursue. Since she was previously a corrections officer, she was also attracted to the concept of setting her own hours, which she says will allow for more flexibility in her schedule so she can care for her three children. The shop is run solely by Bravo, her husband, her brother, and her sister-in-law.
The business, including the name and all of the equipment and signs, was purchased in its entirety from a former owner in Los Angeles. Bravo bought the building in Taft over a year ago, and it has undergone numerous months of construction and design preparation in order to be transformed into what it looks like today.
“This community is so warm and welcoming,” Bravo said, expressing her appreciation for the great number of customers and positive reviews Yogolicious has already attracted in the few weeks it has been in business.
The November/December hours for the shop are 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, and it is open every day except for Wednesdays and Sundays. For more information and updates, visit the Yogolicious Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YogoliciousTaft/
During the first two days of November, Hispanic cultures partake in the largest celebration that symbolizes a reflection of their deceased loved ones. Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration that honors their gone relatives. Friends and families erect shrines of their deceased and bring belongings that reflects on their past life. Dia De Los Muertos also shares a religious following from the Catholic Church as alters are also aligned with rosaries and scriptures from the Bible.
The events that occur during Dia De Los Muertos are live music, Baile Folclorico de Mexico (Mexican Ballet), face painting, and sugar skull decorations. On the evening of November 2nd the 24th annual Dia De Los Muertos Expo was held at the Druids of Bakersfield hall. The host of the event was Cruz Ramos who also happens to be the dancing instructor. She welcomed everyone to the Dia De Los Muertos event and introduced the first performers.
The first performance consisted of a person representing St. Michael the Archangel and a group of youthful dancers dressed in skeletal clothing. The skeletal dancers positioned themselves on the floor, and the performance began with St. Michael walking in between the dancers blowing his horn. Next, the dancers awake as if they have been startled from the grave. Now the center of the room has skeletons dancing around and gaining the applause from the audience. The dance routine symbolizes the dead trying to reconnect with the living.
Upon the completion of the skeleton dance, The Marcos-Reyes-Band began playing music during the intermission which inspired audience members to get up and dance. The environment was lively for an event honoring the dead. Often, we use the time to honor our deceased by mourning; instead Dia De Los Muertos is a celebration of life through unification.
The next group of dancers were Muriel Ramos’ students from Mount Vernon Elementary School. The dancers wore the traditional face paint with symbols reflecting their deceased loved ones. The audience began clapping with the stomping rhythm of the dancers which could be heard through out the dance hall. Showing resilience towards fatigue, the little dancers kicked, spun, and kept the rhythm till the end. Impressed and astonished by the dancers, the audience could not resist blowing the roof off the venue with cheers and applause. Once the dancers finished, they bowed and made their exit.
The Marcos-Reyes-Band briefly played more music until the next set of dancers was ready to perform. After the band played their last song, the female dancers got into formation and began their routine. Similar to the Mt Vernon Elementary dancers, the females painted half their faces with detailed drawings. The attention of the audience focused more on the bright red dresses that the women wore which was accompanied by a swinging dance routine. The lack of applause did not symbolize a staggering performance; instead the audience was caught in a trance by the visual aspect of the moving dresses. Once the dancers were finished, they bowed and were met with applause.
Once the female dancers cleared the area, the next set of dancers approached wearing old men masks, hats, and ponchos and carryingwooden canes. It was not the local retirement home coming to dance but instead a youthful group of dancers ready to prove that old men can dance. The dance was called “Los Viejitos” (The Old Men) and the concept of the dance is the old men are expressing their discomfort around the idea of death. One dancer collapsed to the floor as the old men kept on walking. But to our surprise, the skeleton dancers came back for an encore to help the old man up. The old man was thankful for the fact that death lent him a hand. Now friends with the skeletons, the old man returned to his group, and to his surprise, they all fainted. Laughter could be heard from the audience followed by applause as the skeletons assisted the old man with dragging his friends off stage.
The final dance involved an illuminated hula hoop enthusiast that represented a free spirit in a red dress as she pranced around a dark room. Multiple colors irradiated as the dancer spun her hoop faster and leaped great distances around the dance floor. Unfamiliar with what the audience was spectating, a dark room cheered as the dancer paused and sprung back into action. Unlike the other performances, the hula hoop routine consisted of one individual, and they delivered an entertaining aspect that Dia De Los Muertos taps into–the creativity of people to express themselves for the ones they miss.
College campuses are filled with terrifying things such as research papers, midterms, group assignments, and professors who hand out homework on the weekends.
On Halloween night students had a great time getting dressed up in the TIL (Transition to Independent Living) and Ash Street dorms to forget about all of those petrifying things.
In the Ash Street dorms participants decorated their dorms for a Halloween decorating contest, the winner received a cash prize. One room had a mini haunted house that you could walk through while they attempted to scare you, and if you were brave enough to step through the spine-chilling walk way you were rewarded with candy in light of the Halloween spirit.
In the TIL dorms, students also decorated the doors with designs that read “Dead Inside, Do Not Enter” and “Caution” tape wrapped around the outside. There was a DJ that playing music in the center of the dorms that had people dancing and having a good time.
As students walked through the dorms they found themselves having a great time, sharing laughs and eating Halloween candy as if they were reliving their childhood days.