On November 2, Fort Lauderdale celebrated the sixth annual Day of the Dead festival. The Day of the Dead is a celebration throughout Latin America, of life, art, and creativity — a day in which it is believed in Aztec culture that the door between the world of the living and the world of the dead opens up, and those who have passed away return to celebrate their lives through dance, song, food and laughter.
The Fort Lauderdale event has grown over the years, from a processional of 80 people to one of many thousands. The largest part of the event, the processional, featured more than 40 giant puppets some as large as 21 feet tall, such as Mictlantecuhtli, overseer of the world of the dead (typically portrayed as a skeleton covered in flowers); the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; and dog and cat skeleton puppets. The puppets were designed by Jim Hammond, founder and executive producer of the event, along with Ronni Gerstel and Sonia Matthews.
The celebration began at 6 p.m. with classical musicians playing Mexican music, followed by Aztec dancers performing a Mesoamerican welcoming dance. Fort Lauderdale officials presented a proclamation to the Consul General of Mexico, José Antonio Zabalgoitia, who welcomed everyone to the celebration. Mariachi musicians played, and the procession began, starting at 32 East Las Olas Boulevard (Huizenga Place) and moving along Riverwalk, Fort Lauderdale, to SW 3d Avenue north to the Folklorico Stage, where there were performances of Mariachi and traditional dance. The Muertos Street Festival ran until 10 p.m. The celebration featured memorial alters called “ofrendas,” the Crafts Crypt with Day of the Dead crafts for sale, art installations, mask-making tents, street performers, Latin-American food trucks, and low-rider vehicles — a fun time for all!