Family member calls cemetery celebration disrespectful to dead loved ones

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A Dia de los Muertos festival is creating controversy because it's at a west Valley cemetery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A Dia de los Muertos festival is creating controversy because it's at a west Valley cemetery. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Jose Villela considers the cemetery a sacred place - not a prime location to host a big festival. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jose Villela considers the cemetery a sacred place - not a prime location to host a big festival. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
For the past nine years, the City of Avondale and the non-profit dance organization Ballet Folklorico Esperanza have teamed up to host a Dia de los Muertos event. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) For the past nine years, the City of Avondale and the non-profit dance organization Ballet Folklorico Esperanza have teamed up to host a Dia de los Muertos event. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Kirk Haines with the City of Avondale said they have always received positive feedback on this event and do their best to be respectful. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Kirk Haines with the City of Avondale said they have always received positive feedback on this event and do their best to be respectful. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Villela said anything short of moving the event someplace else is unacceptable. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Villela said anything short of moving the event someplace else is unacceptable. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A cemetery celebration is creating controversy in the west Valley.

Jose Villela has several family members buried at the Goodyear Farms Cemetery in Avondale.

He considers it a sacred place - not a prime location to host a big festival.

"This is their final resting place, why should it be desecrated in the form of having parties here?" said Villela. "It's a big party. They claim they are bringing the community together. You don't bring the community together in a cemetery."

For the past nine years, the City of Avondale and the non-profit dance organization Ballet Folklorico Esperanza have teamed up to host a Dia de los Muertos event - an annual celebration that pays tribute to Mexican and Mexican American farm workers buried in the historic cemetery.

The event includes music, dancing and activities for kids.

Kirk Haines with the City of Avondale said they have always received positive feedback on this event and do their best to be respectful.

"The City is certainly open to working with any of the family members to try to correct any inconsistencies that we have in any of our operations," said Haines.

Villela said anything short of moving the event someplace else is unacceptable.

"It's total disrespect to our families that are buried here," said Villela.

This year's event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Goodyear Farms Cemetery in Avondale. It is free to the public.

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