Day of the Dead rises in Oklahoma City
Awareness about Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican holiday also known as the Day of the Dead, is rising in Oklahoma City, with more events and bigger crowds taking in the sugar skull treats, the marigold blossoms and other festive traditions.
Commemorated Oct. 31-Nov. 2, it is a celebration in which families gather to remember and commune with their loved ones who have passed into the afterlife. Most local events are free, with people of all walks of life invited to respectfully learn about and participate in a festive part of Mexican culture.
"We're really excited for this year's Day of the Dead. It has grown by the thousands every year. So, we're expecting probably around 10,000 people this year," said Selena Skorman, executive director of the Plaza District Association and Plaza Business Alliance. "It has just grown exponentially in the past couple years, to the point where we are closing the streets this year. ... And I think it's going to continue growing."
Organized by two district businesses — Bomb Shelter and Folk Life — the sixth annual Day of the Dead Festival will transform the Plaza District from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the 1700 block of NW 16 between Indiana Ave and Blackwelder Ave.
The La Catrina procession will start at 4 p.m. on NW 16. The procession will feature people costumed as catrins and catrinas — iconic skeleton figures with elaborately painted faces — along with large puppets and small floats. A contest is planned for wagon, stroller or bike floats, with a $100 prize.
Entertainment will be provided by Everything Goes Dance Studio’s “Spirit of Mexico” Folkloric Dance Company, Yúmare Mexican Folkloric Dancers, Eugene Field Elementary dancers, Classen School of Advanced Studies’ Mariachi Sol and bilingual pop band Lincka, fronted by Oklahoma City-based Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lincka Elizondo.
Activity stations will let adults and children try making sugar skull masks or papel picado, which are paper decorations. A free photo booth by Memory Creations and a Day of the Dead-themed youth art show from Eugene Field students will be open. Professional face painting services will be available, too.
Food trucks such as Big Truck Taco, Xolo Norteno Mexican Food, Nick’s Tamales, Sunday’s Bakeshop and Churros Meoqui will be open, along with Plaza District favorites The Mule, The Press, Pie Junkie and The Pritchard.
"We have many Hispanic families that live in our community and have historically lived in our community," Skorman said. "It's a vital part of our story ... and I think that we would be remiss not to acknowledge that and celebrate that."
For more information, go to www.plazadistrict.org.
At the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Latino Student Life and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art are hosting their Day of the Dead event from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 555 Elm Ave. Participants will be able to make sugar skull masks, papel picado and ofrendas, which are offerings for visiting spirits. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/FJJMA.
In Edmond, the University of Central Oklahoma's Hispanic American Student Association is planning interactive and festive performances, free food and prizes for its Dia de Los Muertos event from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Nigh University Center Ballrooms, 100 N University Drive. For more information, go to www.uco.edu/news.
Along with performing with her band Lincka at the Plaza District festival, Elizondo is hosting and organizing an inaugural Dia de Los Muertos event from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the newly renovated Yale Theater, 227 SW 25.
"I welcome everyone to experience our Mexican Culture in all of it's glory in the south side of OKC, an area we call 'Little Mexico,' where all of my Mexican and Latinx people live," she told The Oklahoman.
"There has never been a show quite like this one in OKC ... not catered to white America, but made by and for us Latinx people. And yes! All walks of life are welcomed ... just know that you will be walking into a different world. Our world."
The event will feature performances by Lincka, Mariachi Orgullo, Grupo Folklorico Norahua, Yumare Mexican Folkloric Dancers and Imelda Juarez, plus Latinx drag performances by Aldo Mendoza, Eddie Cervantes, Omar Minaj and Rolando Hernández.
The all-ages festival also will include a catrina and catrin attire competition, food trucks, ofrendas, papel picado, marigolds and Mexican treats such as Abuelita hot chocolate and pan dulce pastries.
"This event is created to decolonize our minds! There is no reason to be scared of what looks different than you," Elizondo said. "This is for my people! This is for the sake of our ancestors and for the generations to come."
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/LinckaMusic.