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Traditional Day of the Dead skeletons hand made by vendors at the festival (Photo/Idania Ramirez).
Traditional Day of the Dead skeletons hand made by vendors at the festival (Photo/Idania Ramirez).

Life in Death: Event Pushes for Remembrance of the Dead

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Winchester Cultural Center in association with Clark County Parks and Recreation provided: shrine displays, food, art, music and culture during its 13th annual “Life in Death: Day of the Dead” festival on Nov. 1-2.

People gathered on the cultural-center’s grounds during the event that showcased: a colorful scheme of skeletons and candles crafted by artisans as well as art exhibits.

The annual “Day of the Dead” tradition was created by Hispanic cultures to, in positive light honor ancestors who passed away.

Erika Borges, director of the event, describes the event as, “Bringing a little piece of Mexico to Las Vegas.”

Borges continued by saying that, “It’s remembering those people who passed on and creating a special day for them the way that we know how … through our music, our traditions and our culture.”

With this year’s numbers, “Life in Death: Day of the Dead” turned out to be the biggest event with the highest turn out that the Winchester Cultural Event Center has had according to Borges.

“Ofrendas” displayed on the event—which are a main component of the tradition— are altars built by families in order to honor their deceased loved ones.

“Ofrendas are more spiritual than visual,” said Yadira Escamilla, a vendor present during the event.

“I showcase everything, like the table cloth that my grandma sewed when she was alive and the tools that my grandpa built his house with,” Escamilla said. “I love showing that, and I love remembering the foundation that I’m built up on.”

The altars are usually adorned with the loved ones’ favorite things they enjoyed while they were still alive. The families display: drinks, clothes, and most valued possessions as a way to make them feel more welcomed as they come back to visit their shrine—a belief in the “Day of the Dead” culture.

Also displayed during the festival was an array of other altars with specific themes: from exhibitions honoring those who have died from natural disasters to teens that have passed away while texting while driving. There was also an altar that recognized those lost while immigrating.

Vendors sold traditional gastronomic delights like “tamales” and corn on the cob, but the most popular food available was “Pan de Muerto,” which translates bread of the dead.

“My grandma and Mom would fabricate ‘Day of the Dead’ bread,” vendor Santos Maldonado said. “Memories are brought back every time—with that bread.”

Young children dressed up as skeletons as adults were covered in flowers and paint. Attendees crowded the workshops available to make: “Pan de Muerto”, sugar skulls and decorative flowers. There was also a face-painting booth.

Music and performances rang through the center. A poetry competition saw winners of cash prizes up to $200.

I will continue with that tradition as long as I live—with hopes that my kids will, too,” Maldonado said.

“We all work hard and just to see everyone with a smile and really celebrating our traditions, it’s worth all the work,” Borges said. “It’s really a blessing and I’m glad everyone can share this with us and will continue to the next years.”



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