16 Nov A Celebration Bringing Arts, Cultures, and Community Together
A very special celebration took place on Friday, October 28th through Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016. The first of its kind on the Northwest Side, it was inspired by traditional Mexican and Latin American Day of the Dead observances for loved ones who have passed and blended them with traditions from All Saints’ Day and Halloween.
Activities centered on Woodard Plaza (at the northwest corner of Milwaukee Ave./Diversey Ave./Kimball Ave., Chicago) and Hairpin Arts Center just across the street at 2810 N. Milwaukee Ave.
A beautiful altar created by local artists was installed all six days of the festival. Visitors were encouraged to make ofrendas (offerings). Traditionally, altars include favorite foods and beverages of the deceased, flowers, photos, and memorabilia. Other items might include sweet pan de muerto (bread of the dead), cardboard skeletons, and skulls made of sugar. A paper-maché Catrina (traditional female figure) was sculpted by Laura Neira.
We remembered youth lives lost and adult lives lost. Although I am not Hispanic or Latina, I left an offering for my half-Korean father. It felt good. It felt right.
But the other side of melancholy was the celebration. Latin music (Salcedo Group and A Flor de Piel), Chinelo dancers (Chinelo Fest), literary readings in Spanish, Polish, and English (Café y Literatura Entre Nosotros and community readers), the children’s party at Hairpin Arts Center, the adult costume party at Crown Liquors and Taproom, Day of the Dead-themed films curated by Repensar Films, children trick-or-treating who stopped to look at the altar.
All of us, together