Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tucson parade honors the dead

All Souls Procession
If you’re in Tucson in early November, the All Souls Procession is something you won’t want to miss. It seems more like a Halloween party than an event to honor the dead as thousands of people march a couple of miles through downtown Tucson.

"The 26th All Souls Procession will take 
place on November 7-8 in 2015."
The procession is the finale of two days of activities on Friday and Sunday. Other activities include a Procession of Little Angels and a a family-oriented  Night of the Living Festival with bands, rides, food and games.

The event is similar to Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It was started in 1990 by a local artist, Susan Johnson, who was grieving the loss of her father. It has grown exponentially since that time.

People, even those not marching in the parade, wear costumes. Face painters do a land-office business on both parade participants and spectators. White faces with eyes staring out of black circles are common, but each painted face is unique.

  At the parades start, a man with a loudspeaker stands behind a large white banner belting out a hell, fire and brimstone sermon, beseeching people to repent their sins before it is too late.

Parade participants
A cacophony of sounds fills the air, as bagpipers compete with drum and mariachi bands.

Sidewalk standing space is at a premium, as spectators spill out into the street. An estimated 100,000 people watched this year’s procession, which ended with burning a large urn filled with messages to loved ones who have passed.

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