‘Our culture is so rich here’: Celebrating Dia De Los Muertos in Brighton as a push for inclusivity

October 31, 2021
Photos of Anna and Emmit Bromley sit atop a makeshift ofrenda during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.Photos of Anna and Emmit Bromley sit atop a makeshift ofrenda during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Photos of Anna and Emmit Bromley sit atop a makeshift ofrenda during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.

In matching Mexican traditional dresses embroidered with flowers and their faces painted like skulls, Trina White and her granddaughters, 1-year-old Amari and 2-year-old Laila, are celebrating Dia De Los Muertos for the first time. 

“My granddaughter Laila, she loves ‘Coco,’ and so just to kind of teach her what the movie is about I think is a good thing for us to just show her that it's real,” White said. “I'm hoping to carry on the tradition with my granddaughters.”

White’s son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and mother all gathered at Bromley Farm in Brighton for the celebration Saturday. There was a petting zoo with horses, sheep, goats and ducks, as well as an archery lesson, jumping castles and a face painting booth. 

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Rose Acosta (left to right), Trina White, Leila (2), Edward White, Jeynashya and Amari (1) represent four generations of their family on a trip to Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.

White said her grandfather immigrated from Mexico when he was 12 or 13 years old and met her mother. They moved to Colorado and now most of their descendants live in Commerce City. White started researching the holiday and decided to celebrate it this year for the first time. 

Amari and Layla’s mom, Jeynashya, said she’s excited to teach her daughters about their heritage and to learn more about it herself. She’s enjoyed learning about the meaning behind the holiday and learning about her husband, and now her children’s, heritage. 

“I'm very excited for them,” Jeynashya said. “Growing up biracial, I hope we encompass and show them both sides of what they are and they know enough that they don't feel like they have to pick a side or aren't too sure about where they stand in the world — that they have both to celebrate.” 

Bromley Farm is a historic piece of land now owned by the City of Brighton and leased by Boots and Shorty McMudd, who have backgrounds in ranching and farming in Colorado and Nebraska. 

“My heart is just to get everybody together for everything. I mean, there's no reason that we can't all celebrate each other's holidays and we can't all celebrate our diversities,” Boots said.  “This farm is such a platform for that.”

They decided to host a Dia De Los Muertos celebration to honor the Hispanic community in Brighton that now makes up more than 30 percent of the population. 

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Kids get airborne in a bounce castle at Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.

“It's important for us to make sure that they know they're included,” said Boot’s twin-sister, Faith Kelly. “Last weekend, we had wild west days and we had the native dancers. It's important for us to remind people that our culture is so rich here, you know, so to have the native dancers to have the Day of the Dead for the community, to know that they're a part of us and we're a part of them and get to share that with them is an important thing for us.”

An ofrenda, or altar, meant to honor the dead was set up near the entrance to the festival with framed photos of the original Bromley Farm owners, Emmet Ayers Bromley and his wife Anne. The Bromley’s were early settlers in Colorado, and Emmet served three terms in the Colorado House of Representatives. He also helped establish Adams County in 1901. 

“This farm is open. We want people to come out, not just during the festival,” Boots said. 

The farm has a general store that’s open everyday and will soon have a coffee shop. The team is also working on adding a dog park, something the city has been hoping to do for a long time, Boots said. The historic house on the property is also being converted to a museum and will offer tours.

“I want people to know that this place is available for them to use,” she said. “We want this to be an oasis to the community.” 

After the festival, White said they planned to visit the graves of her grandparents on her mother’s side. She hopes her granddaughters will carry on celebrating the tradition year after year.

“I have an ofrenda set up at home,” she said. “I have my candles and my flowers and pictures and everything at home. And so I'm hoping to carry on the tradition with my granddaughters and they'll have all this stuff in one place. So every year they can put it out and celebrate. "

Check out more photos from the celebration

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Matthew and Jacky (9) got their faces painted at Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Jose Ramirez slings a lasso during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Benjamin (4) rides a bouncing bull in a tiny old west town at Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Levi (9) came to Bromley Farm's Fall Festival dressed as the Cowardly Lion from "The Wizard of Oz," hence the moustache. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Cheyenne (2) negotiates with some goats at a petting zoo during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A lawn mower ride for kids (and some adults) at Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
A tractor ride makes its way through a field of pumpkins during Bromley Farm's Fall Festival in Brighton. Oct. 30, 2021.

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