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Sonoma County Gazette
Petaluma Perspective by Houston Porter

18th Annual El Día de Los Muertos
& Petaluma Mayoral Election

Sep 1, 2018
by Houston Porter


El Día de Los Muertos Petaluma

El Día de Los Muertos Petaluma Candlelight procession. Photo: Public Domain-Creative Commons.The 18th annual El Día de Los Muertos Petaluma alter placementsis almost upon us.Any downtown businesses that would like to participate can, free of charge, and will be added to the map, which gets distributed to 3,000+ tourists and locals. The placing of alters, in honor of those that have passed on to the afterlife, is a time-honored multi-cultural tradition, and has quickly gained popularity in Petaluma. For more information, visit the Petaluma Downtown Association’s website or El Día’s Facebook page.

El Día de Los Muertos Petaluma festivities start on:

  • Oct 7 with an opening event and health fair at from noon to 3 p.m. at the St. Vincent’s Church plaza.
  • Oct 13 is an artist reception from 6 – 9 p.m. at Ice House Gallery.
  • Oct 16 – Nov. 2 alters will be on display throughout downtown.
  • Oct 17 is another artist reception and gathering at the Petaluma Mail Depot from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Oct 19 is the Poetry of Remembrance event at Petaluma SRJC from 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Oct 20 is the SRJC Petaluma El Día de los Muertos Community Celebration from 10 – 3 p.m.
  • Oct 27th is the Candlelight Procession with Giant Puppets and Closing Event 4:00 - 10:00 pm
    The big Candlelight procession with giant puppets starts at 4 p.m. at the Petaluma Smart Train Station, with the procession walking on Washington Street towards the Petaluma Fairgrounds for the closing event, which will last until 10 p.m.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of Rum!

The Petaluma Museum Association, in partnership with Preferred Sonoma Caterers and Wilibees, present a Rum-paired dinner on Thurs., Oct. 4, starting at 6 p.m. This fundraiser is held each fall, but with a different menu of food and drink, and is always a huge hit. What with this year’s being rum, the museum is encouraging guest to dress as their favorite pirate, or any old pirate at all. Chef Amber Balshaw of PSC is a real pro when it comes to catering, but goes that extra mile when doing a paired dinner. I’ve actually watched her studying up on whiskeys for a past dinner and it was impressive to see how much thought she put into each dish to make sure that it would work well with the spirits, each of which have their own distinct characteristics. In addition to Amber, Wilibees staff will be on hand to not only help pour the various rums, all of which are available at their shops in both Petaluma and Santa Rosa, but to also help explain the spirits and why they work so well with Amber’s dishes.

We have attended several of these dinners, from Mescal to Scotch, and all have been a once in a lifetime dining experience, especially getting to sit beneath the PMA’s huge stained glass ceiling dome. Visit for tickets, which are $60 for PMA members and $70 for non-members, so as always, I recommend putting that extra $10 towards a PMA membership, which will bring you many benefits beyond this $10 discount. Memberships are only $35. For those without garb, Custom Costumes at 927 Petaluma Blvd. N. (707-778-8833) can help you out.

And speaking of the PMA, a huge congrats to local art historian, volunteer, and former board member, Paula Freund, who was recently awarded the “David Byrd Certificate of Meritorious Performance & Promise” by the California Council for the Promotion of History for her work as the chief researcher, historian, and curator of the groundbreaking historical exhibit "Portraits of Petaluma Pioneers," presented last summer at the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum. The PMA, and Petaluma, are lucky to have Paula in our midst. First and foremost, she is simply a spectacular person, but what she does for our town through her work with the museum is beyond reproach.

Petaluma Art Trails

Sonoma County Art Trails welcomes those looking to buy, or simply just to enjoy, into the studios of 18 new artist and 126 returning artists, onthe weekends of Oct. 13 – 14, and 20 –

Election Time

I try not to get too involved in politics, but the Petaluma mayoral election is always an exciting race. Even though Petaluma’s mayor is simply a city council position, but with a different title, people seem to get pretty worked up over it.  Last race, Mike Harris lost to David Glass by just 84 votes, and so is back to try again, and is up against three-term city council member Teresa Barrett and newcomer Brian Powell. 

Not new to Petaluma, Brian Powell’s family has lived here for generations, although he is brand new to the political arena. He would like to see the council put its energies toward stopping what he considers to be rampant growth in our city. Teresa Barrett is a long-time city council member and David Glass ally.

No matter who you vote for, I encourage you to meet the candidates and ask them the questions that most concern you. Although Mike Harris is politically a conservative, who campaigned for John McCain, he did not support Trump, which I feel is an important thing to mention. Additionally, when it comes to local politics, liberals and conservatives do not differ in how they fill potholes, so political parties really should be left out of the mix.

That being said, I believe Mike Harris is Petaluma’s best choice for mayor. Although I am sure any of the three would likely do a good job, I have personally watched how involved Mike is in our community, even when he wasn’t on the city council, where he served from 2002 to 2014. He is a staunch supporter of both academics and athletics, often bringing his family to local sporting events, and always making himself available to speak when high school classes, such as government, ask. He understands the challenges of our community and genuinely wants to help revitalize our economy and improve our infrastructure. However, most important to me, Mike really listens. I have never seen him shy away from the tough conversations and always leaves people knowing that their voice was heard. 




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