Dozens of altars will be on display honoring everyone from dead celebrities to residents’ family members. At the historic Andres Pico Adobe Park in Mission Hills, the turnout is expected be large Sunday for the 12th annual CultuAtzlan Dia de los Muertos celebration. Richard Arroyo, 50, one of the event’s organizers, said the celebration will be traditional, with mariachi and ballet folklorico performances along with theater, poetry and a “charro” riding horseback to entertain the masses. The finale will include a blessing of the altars and a procession. Hosted by CultuAztlan, the San Fernando Valley Latino Arts Council and the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, the event also promises traditional food, a children’s corner and face painting for anyone wanting to get into the skull-faced spirit. Despite the emphasis on the macabre, the traditional Mexican holiday is more like Thanksgiving than Halloween. It’s also a reminder that “the memory of a loved one need not be a somber experience,” said Arroyo, of Mission Hills. “The Day of the Dead is to honor and celebrate the lives of loved ones, individuals or groups that have deeply affected one’s life.” The holiday can also help people deal with the pangs of recent loss in an uplifting environment. Rosa Salazar, of Canoga Park, has had a tough year. She lost her grandmother, grandfather and niece. Her offerings at the Canoga Park event will include a stuffed teddy bear for her niece, enchiladas for her grandmother and a letter for her grandfather. “Before, I had no reason to celebrate,” she said. “Now that I’ve lost someone close to the family, I want to honor them.” The event, along Canoga Park’s commercial district, educates the public about the significance of Day of the Dead, and debunks misconceptions, said Arely Esqueda, one of the event’s volunteers. But it also offers a multicultural experience. “There’s a feeling you’re walking through Mexico,” Esqueda said. “I hope they have a good feeling and they will come back every year.” WANT TO GO? CANOGA PARK: The Dia de los Muertos Festival in Canoga Park will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday along Sherman Way between Canoga and Vassar avenues. MISSION HILLS: The CultuAtzlan Dia de Los Muertos Festival in Mission Hills will be held Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Andres Pico Adobe Park at 10940 Sepulveda Blvd. (at Brand Boulevard). Call 818-448-0511.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CANOGA PARK – On Sunday, Juliana Martinez will immortalize Anna Nicole Smith with a girly altar decorated in shades of pink. The Canoga Park woman wants people to remember Anna Nicole as a sultry Guess jeans girl – not the drug addicted sex symbol whose life spiraled out of control. Martinez will honor Smith at a daylong celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual Latino celebration where the living symbolically pass time – even party — with the souls of the dead who return each year to visit and be entertained. “I mean this in a totally respectful way,” she said as she sifted through items that will be used for an altar. “I just want to protect her from somebody else who might want to abuse her memory.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Martinez, 53, is among dozens who will erect altars, or ofrendas (offerings), to welcome the returning souls at Sunday’s seventh annual event. Main Street Canoga Park, a nonprofit, community-based organization, established the festival, with the assistance of the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2001. The Anna Nicole Smith altar will be decked out in pink marigolds, pink-dyed rice, a headless mannequin dressed in a pink satin dress, a pink martini glass filled with pink M&M’s, black roses and pictures of the blonde bombshell. “I’m not a fan,” Martinez said. “When she was on TV I looked at her and said `poor thing.’ You should give her the respect you would to anyone who passed away.” Thousands are expected to attend the local festival, which features chalk artists, live entertainment, traditional food, arts and crafts and a classic car show.