PASO ROBLES — The Hispanic Business Association, located in Paso Robles hosted its sixth annual Dia de Los Muertos Celebration Saturday at Sculpterra Winery. Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration to remember friends and family members who have died. The holiday is celebrated in Mexico from Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in connection with All Hallow’s Time, All Hallow’s Eve and Soul’s Day and is comprised of the building of altars, sugar skulls, marigolds and family-oriented festivities, according to the master of ceremonies and HBA President Francisco Ramirez.
“Our first annual Day of the Dead celebration, there were only ten of us, now look at it, this is amazing, so beautiful,” said Vice President Maria Elena Garcia, one of the original founders, as she surveyed the crowd enjoying a generous buffet of traditional Mexican food provided by local businesses and members including Su Casa, San Miguel Bakery, El Pollo Loco, Springside Restaurant and La Rena Market.
Father Ignacio, of Mission San Miguel, was there to dedicate the altar; DJ Manuel Medina was also on hand spinning for his 5th year in a row; and dance instructor Liliana Graham gave a professional lesson to the crowd. There was also Spanish Bingo, a lotteria and a costume contest for both the adults and the kids.
“Today has been a community get-together,” said Garcia. And in regards to becoming a part of HBA, the organization is for people who own a business or simply want to start one. They offer assistance, step-by-step, from business licenses to website assistance and graphic design. Board member Mr. Richard Benitez, a retired educator and long time resident, even provides translation services.
“When we first started this organization six years ago, the reason we started it was because some of our small businesses couldn’t afford the Chamber’s $300 annual fee,” he said. “And for a small business for example, Armando Martinez, he just had an idea at first. He wanted to start a business but didn’t know what to start. He’s a bartender at Big Bubba’s and he said, ‘Maria, I hear you're doing this networking’ and I said ‘yes I am’ and he said ‘I really need help, I’ve been saving all my money, I want to start a business but I have no idea what to do or where to go.’”
Garcia told Martinez to start coming to the meetings and now, five years later, Martinez is the proud owner of a successful steam cleaning business.
“He took a class at Cuesta like we advised him to, went to the chemical classes, made sure he got his commercial and residential licenses,” Garcia said. “We hooked him up with business insurance and then we got him the website and a designer to make him his business cards and his flyers and the designer even helped him come up with a logo. He had no idea what he even wanted to call his business. So from scratch we helped him from zero to now successful. That’s just one example. We all help each other out.”