MEDINA – The fourth annual Mexican Día de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” celebration will return in a live format to the Orleans County YMCA, 306 Pearl St., on Oct. 23.
Visitors will be able to learn about a holiday that remembers ancestors.
The Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration is a time of joyful remembrance of deceased loved ones, filled with an array of colors, scents, sounds and stories. Centered around the Christian observance of All Saints and All Souls Days on Nov. 1 and 2. The celebration also includes images and ideas about the roles of ancestors in our lives, that trace back to Mexico’s indigenous peoples.
Tradition holds that this is the one time of the year when souls can return to earth for a day and commune with their families and friends.
“We’re excited to have an in-person event this year, with the continuing support of local Medina businesses and community members” says Karen Canning, director of GLOW Traditions at the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.
Free activities are scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. at Oct. 23. The festivities will include Mexican crafts, face painting, dance and drama performance, sand painting and ofrenda displays, special food tastings, and food trucks. All activities will continue throughout the day at the family-friendly event.
Mexican celebrations of the holiday often include animated skeletons and colorfully decorated skulls (calaveras), emphasizing life’s continuing vibrancy in the midst of mortality.
Downtown business owners are offering these arts workshops at the YMCA in sugar skulls, paper flowers and banners, and paper masks. Participating locations include The Author’s Note Bookstore, Della’s Chocolates, The Downtown Browsery, Pathstone Corporation, and Rosenkranz Pharmacy.
Canalside Tattoos will offer temporary tattoos, and Case-Nic Cookies will have Day of the Dead-themed treats for sale.
GO ART! and Mariachi de Oro staff will offer above-the-mask face painting, while Celebrity Day Spa is selling a more elaborate version before the event at their store location.
Mariachi de Oro will provide samples of Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), a typical food of the holiday, and Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza Food
Truck will offer more substantial fare for sale outside the YMCA.
Beautiful altars, called ofrendas, in homes welcome the returning souls and feature candles, wild marigolds, incense, photographs, mementos and loved ones’ favorite foods such as fruit, tortillas, tamales, chocolate, and bread. Members of the Rosario family will again create a large ofrenda at the YMCA in the style of their hometown in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta will also create a sand painting in front of the ofrenda, another decorative art found in Oaxaca for the holiday — check the schedule for presentations of these artistic traditions.
Attendees can contribute to a community ofrenda, where they can place a candle (electric, provided) and add their own remembrances of loved ones.
New this year are Mexican dance, music and dramatic performances by Alma de México, a group from Rochester led by Karla Alcalá.
Alcalá, a former member of a folkloric dance group in Mexico, now teaches community members traditional dance from a variety of regions. The group will present a new dramatic
piece featuring “La Catrina,” a figure originally drawn by Mexican illustrator, Jose Guadalupe Posada, that has become associated with the holiday.
Live music will also be provided by La Marimba, a marimba band from Buffalo led by Tiffany Nicely.
The large monos de calenda (street puppets), created by artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta will also return to dance and wander among attendees.
Everyone’s invited to join in, and should feel free to come in Day of the Dead themed outfits.
The event is co-sponsored by GLOW Traditions at GO ART!, Mariachi de Oro Restaurant, and the YMCA, with partial funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
If you go
Admission is free. Those attending will need to wear face masks.
A full schedule of events can be found at www.medinadod.com.