Day of the Dead celebrated in events around Yuma
Throughout Mexico and in U.S. communities along the border, people honor the memories of departed loved ones during Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
But the artistic cultural traditions of the observance will themselves be the occasion for celebration Friday and Saturday in festivities and artistic exhibits in the Yuma area and nearby Mexican border cities.
Los Algodones, Baja Calif., on Saturday, will stage its first Dia de los Muertos festival, an outdoor celebration featuring music and folkloric dance performances as well as arts and crafts exhibits that draw on the theme of the holiday.
On this side of the border, Somerton will host an exhibit of Day of the Dead altars Friday and Saturday, while members of Arizona Western College's LULAC Student Club will sell carne asada tacos and perform Day of the Dead skits in a fundraising event Thursday on campus.
The Algodones festival, say organizers, has the dual purpose of preserving the Day of the Dead tradition and attracting visitors from the Yuma area in what is the start of the community's tourist season.
“We want to help promote culture and spread the tradition,” said Camilo Gaspar, an Algodones doctor and secretary of the Los Algodones Medical Tourism Council, the organization staging the event.
“Day of the Dead is a huge celebration in the south of the country, a celebration of several days,” he said. “Unfortunately in the north it's not celebrated so much.
“We want people to enjoy them all morning and into the afternoon, and to know more about the tradition of Day of the Dead.”
Depending on turnout, organizers hope to make the celebration an annual event, he said.
It will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on Avenue A, immediately south of the border crossing. There is no charge for admission.
Fourteen Day of the Dead altars, made either by residents or businesses of Algodones, will be on exhibit, and one will be picked as the winner in a contest judged by the Municipal Institute of Art and Culture of Mexicali.
The Somerton altar exhibit, sponsored by the city's Parks and Recreation Department and the Mexican Consulate in Yuma, will take place in the former site of the city's Senior Center, Canal Street and Council Avenue, on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and again Saturday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
The event hosted by AWC student members of LULAC — League of United Latin American Citizens — will take place 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday in the green area immediately north of 3C on the AWC campus.
Carne asada tacos will be served in what is a fund-raiser for the club, and students will put on Day of the Dead-themed skits every 30 minutes beginning at noon.