More than 200 members of the community gathered together on Friday, Feb. 2 at the Catalina Country Club for a special Día de la Candelaria celebration, hosted by the Catalina Island Company.
Occurring 40 days after Christmas, this traditional Mexican holiday marks the date the Virgin Mary first presented the baby Jesus at the Temple.
Many Avalon residents have fond memories celebrating Día de la Candelaria in their native Mexico, where they would dress figures of the Christ Child in special outfits and take them to church to be blessed.
They also mark the occasion by getting together with family and friends to eat tamales.
When a small group of Catalina Island Company employees presented their idea to bring this piece of Mexican heritage to Avalon, Island Company CEO Randall Herrel said, “Let’s do it.”
Catalina Island Company donated the food, beverages and use of the Country Club, while employee volunteers organized games for the kids and served hundreds of tamales to an appreciative crowd.
“We just wanted to get together and do something positive for the community,” said Amelia Rivera, assistant banquet manager for Catalina Island Company.
Rivera was happy to see Mayor Ann Marshall and Fr. William Ruther of St. Catherine of Alexandria Church come out to show their support.
However, when one attendee, grateful for the efforts of Catalina Island Company employees, said to Rivera, ‘”They all were serving us,”’ she knew they had done a good thing for the community.