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Dia de los Muertos, the Day of The Dead, is a multi-generational, deep-rooted Mexican tradition and for almost the past three decades it has been celebrated as a public parade throughout the South Valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This past Sunday marked the 26th annual Dia De Los Muertos Marigold Parade. The event began at 2 p.m. but crowds of people started to gather on the streets up to an hour before to get the best spots to see the upcoming parade.
Kristin Barendsen, a New Mexico local, said that she has come to the South Valley’s Dia De Los Muertos Marigold Parade for more than five years. She said that she dresses up every single year with her friends and family.
“A few of us walked down the length of the parade and we kept getting stopped by photographers who wanted to take our picture, all the paparazzi,” Barendsen said. “So that was fun, we felt like celebrities.”
It looked like thousands of people stood and sat all along the curbs from the intersection of Goff Boulevard and Arenal Road to the West Side Community Center, where food trucks, local merchandise vendors and performances were held throughout the full day of celebration.
Full families of men, women, children all came to the celebration, with some attendees even brought their pets.
It was common to see people with their faces painted to resemble calaveras, skeletons, in accordance with New Mexican tradition. This tradition was set to imitate the artwork of Jose Guadalupe Posada. In his artwork he depicted everyone as skeletons regardless of their social or economic class. Some people went a step further and wore a full ensemble including a dress or tuxedo to go along with their decorated faces.
One couple dressed up as curanderos, a native healer, by wearing special necklaces and carrying large walking sticks. Another group wore large purple hats that encompassed their entire bodies and had human sized paper skeletons hanging around them from the edges of their hats.
The parade itself started off with a native Mexican musical piece with dancers and musical performers walking down the street. Behind them were cars that were dressed with large paper flowers, all pulling floats with different groups of people on them.
Some of these groups were social activists shouting catchy mottos and calling people to action over current events. Some groups were local school sport teams and clubs, ranging from grade school to high school.
A few of the floats even had ofrendas, Mexican altars, where images and objects of loved ones were placed so that they can be welcomed back during the celebration.
One ofrenda was dedicated to Lily Garcia, the 4-year-old girl that was killed in the road rage incident back in 2015. A few of the floats ahead of Lily’s ofrenda were advocating to stop road rage and violence in New Mexico.
“No more child abuse. Stop the violence New Mexico,” a man leading the Pink Ladies’ float shouted.
Other floats had large hand drawn designs and papier-mâché creations that stood up to an extra seven-to-eight feet on top of the automobiles. Some of these creations were giant puppets that had multiple manipulating parts of the body to make it come alive.
Marco Torrez is a multimedia reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Marcopolo7721.