Día de Muertos: A day to celebrate and reflect in the Gordon Square Arts District

Halloween is over, and as the Aztec rituals of Mexico dictate, Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is now upon us—the time to honor ancestors and commemorate loved ones who have passed.

Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT), Teatro Público de Cleveland (TPC), and Día de Muertos Ohio will present the 19th Annual Día de Muertos Festival this Saturday, Nov. 4 at Cleveland Public Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

Although the name may sound grim, the Día de Muertos —celebration integrates harvest festivities and gathering family to remember past family and friends with fondness and happy memories.

Traditional arts, flowers, food, music, dance, and fun are integral to the cultural mix, as are particular items specific to the holiday, such as the altars that usually include elements of the earth (salt), wind (cut paper decorations), fire (candles), and water.

However, the traditions and rituals vary widely throughout Mexico, Latin America, Spain, and other countries.

When the Spaniards conquered the New World, the indigenous holiday was commingled and integrated with the Catholic observances of All Saints and All Souls Days.

The image of Catrina, the traditional “Lady of the Dead” goddess of the Aztecs, is a smiling skeleton. Although skulls may seem gruesome or scary to Western cultures, skulls symbolize new life for the Aztecs.

During the event, colorful candy sculptures of skulls and skeletons burst with color to create lighthearted and funny poses of the living.

This deeply spiritual and yet exuberant celebration can often reflect more of an attitude about enjoying a higher level of consciousness and living life to the fullest.

Under the guidance of artistic director Héctor Castellanos Lara, Saturday’s Día de Muertos will feature altar installations, arts & crafts, Latin food, live music, and free entertainment for all ages.

Día de Muertos takes place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. outside Cleveland Public Theatre, the Church, Parish Hall, and outside, 6205 Detroit Ave., in the Gordon Square Arts District. The event is free.

Día de MuertosDía de MuertosEvent Schedule

Parish Hall

  • 12 p.m.–1 p.m.: Dueto Maravilla (Romantic Mexican popular songs)
  • 1 p.m.- 2 p.m.: Mi Quetzalenses (Marimba de Guatemala)
  • 2:10 p.m.-2:40 p.m.:   “The Book of Life” play, performed by Garfield Heights High School Drama Club.
  • 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Danza Azteca Guadalupana
  • 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: TBD
  • 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.: Rice & Beans Latin Jazz Band
  • 8 p.m.–10 p.m.: Free Form Music

  • 1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Ricardo Morales Vivero (Guitar )
  • 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Ariel Clayton  (Violin)
Parade 3:30 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

  • All parade participants are required to line up at 2:30 p.m.
  • The grand marshal is Antonio Serna
  • Banner leader is Olga Rosado, with the salsa school Samba da Cidade
Official Altars by Robin Heinrich & Adam Carroll, Edna Fuentes-Casiano, Verónica Tomaschek, Tracy Doran, Terry Flores, Kole Robinson Brooks, Sheila Keller, María Froehlich, Deanne Conley, Lakeland Community College.

Cemetery installation by Mark & Patty Jenks, Nina V. Huryn & Ted Olah, Ian Petroni, Mark Kmit, and costume designer Denajua Denajua.