AltaMed’s Unforgettable Día de Muertos Picnic
Games & Activities
Shuttles Ran All Day
A Festive Picnic
When we were contacted by AltaMed to host their 2019 Día de Muertos picnic celebration, we were all in. AltaMed is a healthcare and human services provider working closely with Latino communities around California. Many of their own staff are also Latino, and Día de Muertos is an important celebration in their community.
This day is one meant to celebrate life and death, full of rich tradition. The vibrant colors associated with the holiday bring the dearly departed back to life to be a part of a truly transcendental family gathering. Día de Muertos, with its traditional sugar skulls, aromatic foods, bright marigold flowers, festive music, and Calavera face paints, is a truly remarkable celebration. Naturally, we were honored to take part in planning for such a holiday.
It was a brisk November morning, the ashy sky just beginning to light up, when we arrived at Bonelli Park to begin our preparations. This gorgeous park in San Dimas is traditionally the backdrop of each AltaMed staff picnic, and it’s one of our favorites, too.
An Outstanding Turnout
Bonelli Park is a huge, open space, with plenty of flat grassy lawns perfect for setting up attractions. It hosts an abundance of manicured shade trees, which are perfect for keeping participants cool. We’re also partial to the gorgeous view and breeze off the lake in the park, which makes an exceptional backdrop for company picnics. Despite the park’s remarkable size, it still didn’t host enough parking for today’s event. We brought in shuttles to transport the guests from a separate parking lot.
This would be a truly ginormous family day, and we’re always pretty excited to host such a big number of attendees. There’d be 7,000 staff and families at today’s employee picnic. Turnout was so exceptional that, with the offsite parking, our 8 shuttles ran back and forth all day to keep up with the guests. It’s always a treat to have such a tremendous gathering, especially for a holiday meant to invoke community. We were sure the bright colors, delicious food, laughter, and festivities would invite thousands more departed loved ones to join in on this Day of the Dead.
To keep the lines down, we only registered the living guests attending today’s family day. Even so, we had to bring in several registration booths as well as digital registration options. Seven extra staff carrying iPads armed with our latest registration software got guests through the lines quickly. Seeing the wonder on the faces of adults and children alike, enraptured by the décor and music, brought smiles to all of our faces.
Buckets of Fun
We’d brought in plenty of exciting activities for our attendees today. The morning had been spent setting up brightly colored carnival booths with racks full of prizes. Guests flitted among the booths, trying their hand at our various classic carnival games. Some tried out our Human Foosball game, in which players take the places of pegs on a foosball table, kicking balls at each other’s goals. The game is always a lot of fun, and it seemed to be a hit with our guests today.
If someone was sports inclined, they gravitated to our sports game setups. We’d brought in Soccer Kick, Fastball, and Football Toss stations, equipped with extra inflatables for the large turnout we’d had today. These stations stayed busy as well, with cheers and chatter filling the air around them.
For this event, we brought out our brand-new Reaction Attraction game, which functions like a giant Simon Says. It’s a huge inflatable room, and guests must rush from wall to wall to push buttons at the right time. This, too, seemed to be a hit with the crowd. We also had a multipurpose sports arena, where guests could take part in jousting, volleyball, boxing, soccer, dodgeball, or basketball.
The kids seemed to gravitate most to our line of bouncers. Bounce houses are always a big hit with kids at our events, and there were plenty of options to choose from that day. We’d set up a Princess Castle, Blue Ice Castle, and Palm Tree Tropical Bouncer. For the adventurous, we’d brought in inflatable obstacle courses and combo bouncers like Rocky Island and Tiki Slide.
This picnic was a blast not only for us, but especially for our guests. AltaMed had wanted today to be both a meaningful celebration, as well as a day full of fun. Staff and families alike bustled to and fro, and the huge crowd moving and bustling around was a treat for us.
Cheers came from the carnival rides, while the smell of lunch wafted from the buffet station. Guests dressed in costume, sugar skull face paint, and bright colors made the visual all the better. We’d set up a facepainting station with ten airbrush artists. By the end of the event, shuttles were full of guests in sugar skull face paint, which was equally a treat to behold.
A Meaningful Event
AltaMed wanted to be sure that today’s attendees had keepsakes to bring home to remember the event by. In addition to the facepainting station, we brought in 10 caricature artists to draw our guests. We’d also set up a festive photo station with Día de Muertos backgrounds, foregrounds, and props. For the artistically inclined, we’d even set up a craft table. Kids got to decorate their own treat bags to hold prizes, portraits, and kettle corn from our vendor.
We’d brought in a special treat for our guests today. The Las Marionetas En Desfile (Marionettes on Parade) puppeteers drew a huge crowd under their shade tree for an educational show. They taught about many traditions from Latin America and some common, useful Spanish words and phrases. So too did they teach about Cinco de Mayo, Día de Muertos, Día de la Patria (Independence Day), and other Latin traditions. Backdropped by lively mariachi music, they enraptured their crowd as well as educated them.
Children especially loved the puppets, who consisted of charming skeletons, floating ghosts, dancing flowers, and so much more. We, too, got caught up in the show, and found ourselves watching quite a bit, too.
If guests found themselves getting hungry, we’d made sure to bring in plenty of treats. A favorite for us was the salsa bar, full of homemade, delicious salsas we kept coming back to. There were so many options. Our guests munched on Pico de Gallo, Green Tomatillo, Red Chili de Arbol, and Guacamole.
This salsa bar also functioned as a Mexican condiments station, stocked with plenty cilantro, lime, tortilla chips, and corn tortillas. We also had a traditional hotdog and hamburger condiment station to top our freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs.
On the menu today were plenty of classic picnic foods as well as some delicious Mexican foods. Our double-barreled wood-burning grills stayed fired up, cooking up hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers, Carne Asada, and Pollo al Carbon. Our vendors also whipped up some seriously delectable black bean and butternut squash tacos on request.
A Successful Day
The day was surely an exciting one, and as the sun began to dip low in the sky, the event wound to a close. Our guests, decked out in their face paints, made their way onto the shuttles, smiles still on their faces. We couldn’t stop smiling, either.
We felt we had done exactly what we’d set out to do for AltaMed’s treasured team. We’d given them an amazing celebration they wouldn’t soon forget. The day had been a success, and this amazing team and their families seemed to have an incredible time.
Even as we packed away the last of our props, we knew we wouldn’t forget this day, either. And we looked forward to planning AltaMed’s next big family day.