Monday, November 5, 2012

Dia De Los Muertos 2012

If it's the first Sunday after Halloween, you will find my family and I in Tuscon for the annual All Souls Procession in honor of my father in law.  You'll know you're in it because everyone's faces are painted up to look like skulls and you'll see altars or shrines big or small.  There parade attendees are in the thousands and the crowds are more than happy to see you.

Last year I designed the float so this time it was my sister in law's turn.

The brick wall represents the hard work Dad did as a mason.  Then there are various pictures of our family, Dad as a young missionary and a picture of the Mesa Temple.  "Hasta Ver Nos Con El Rey" is a line from the LDS hymn, "God Be With You Til We Meet Again." There were little knick knacks like skeletons, a little guitar, and a Book of Mormon in Italian.  I remember my husband and I bought that for him while we were visiting SLC.  Dad was trying to teach himself Italian so we thought he would like it.  He told Mom that if they were ever to serve a mission as couple, he'd want to go to Italy. Looking at the book made me feel a happy, a little sad...or a lot sad.

Dia de los Muertos carries a special meaning to my husband's family.  Every year Dad would go alone to Mexico to week long celebration.  They had never gone with him and when we heard of this parade, everyone thought it would be a good idea to honor him in that way.  The first one we went to took place a few months after he passed away.  It was such a fun time and I'd like to think that he was there with us and that he loved how silly we all looked with our painted faces, trying to maneuver a float in his honor down crowded streets.

It's amazing to see what people can come up with.  We were towards the back of the parade so I'm sure we missed some really cool pieces that were in the front but our float was good as well.  I think my favorite was the cow skeleton bike.

I wish I had video of this in motion.  The guy who made it had set it up so when he rode the bike, all four legs would move as if the cow was running.  Amazing!

There is something about walking with a big giant crowd of people, all there for the same purpose; to honor someone they lost.  There is no race, no religion...yes it does remind me of John Lennon's "Imagine" when we take part.  There is nothing but kindness and smiles.  There's always some kind of music playing, whether it's a school band, a mariachi or even a group of bagpipe players (somehow we always manage to be around them).  There are also groups that have causes such as honoring those who pass away while trying to cross the border, American veterans, nuclear plant workers, and other various causes.  We were surprised/glad that there wasn't any political activists or people with their "push to vote for my candidate."  It was just a big happy group of folks who want to celebrate.

This person dressed up as a bird dancer on stilts.  The way they moved was curious and strange, I had to snap a picture.

The route was full of spectators on both sides and all you see are flashes of light or the glow of cell phones itching to take pictures.  Again, people take candid shots of you, your kids, people around you..I think I might have gotten used to it.  Another thing to expect is the smell of marijuana along spots while walking in the parade.  My niece said, "Ew, something smells like a really strong bug spray or something." I said, "Yes, it's bug spray now walk faster."

We end the night reconvening at our usual spot to eat sandwiches and chips from home and talk about what we saw or heard from the crowds, our favorite floats and forgetting how chilly it gets in Tuscon at night.  Then we pack up and head out for the hour and a half ride home, extremely sleepy, full of food and new memories of the parade.

I can't wait till next year.


  1. What a cool and unique way to honor someone you love. I'm sure he gets to look down and celebrate with you. I loved the facebook photos of your outfit - you are always so creative!

  2. Very cool! I always wondered what the parade is like. I would like to go and watch. let me know when it is next year!