The Springs Preserve celebrated Las Vegas’ diverse community by recently hosting “Día de los Muertos ,” one of the most important holidays in Hispanic culture, on Nov. 1-3.
“Día de los Muertos,” or “Day of the Dead,” originates from Aztec festivals honoring the dead. Some believe that during the festival the souls of the dead are able to come back to visit their loved ones.
One of the traditions of the holiday involves creating altars to honor the dead with sugar skulls and their favorite food and beverages. Although the holiday originated in Mexico, the celebration has spread and is now celebrated all around the world.
Día de los Inocentes or “Day of the Innocents,” is traditionally the first of the three-day holiday which welcomes the souls of dead children. The following day welcomes the souls of dead adults.
The Springs Preserve expanded their Día de los Muertos holiday to three days this year and continued to host their altar contest.
Visitors were greeted by the preserve’s main stage where musical performances, storytelling and poetry readings were performed.
Walking through the preserve visitors would see Día de los Muertos artwork for sale and a “papel picado,” designs cut from tissue paper, and paper flower workshop. Children could be seen creating these traditional items which are a vital component of the altars.
Angelica Maralason, public information coordinator for the Springs Preserve, played a vital role in the planning of the event.
Maralason says that seeing more people from different cultures coming together to celebrate Día de los Muertos every year is one of the most fulfilling results of her hard work.
Many of the event’s sponsors were prominent in the Hispanic Las Vegas community including Telemundo, 103.5 “La Nueva,” 99.3 “La Kalle,” 101.9 “La Buena” and “El Tiempo” among others.
One of the major sponsors, Wells Fargo, hosted a booth that distributed Día de los Muertos face masks.
A train ride just past the main stage featured La Llorona or “Weeping Woman,” a spirit that is said to be trapped between the living and spirit world, searching for her children, which she drowned.
With traditional hispanic food, decorative altars, face painting, sugar skull decorating and train rides the Springs Preserve provided the Las Vegas community with family-friendly activities and a space to publicly display the altars made for their dead loved ones.
Visitors walked pass the workshops to the Gardens Amphitheater where the first two altars were displayed. They were then led through the gardens where a total of 37 altars were displayed.
Altars for deceased children, immigrants who died crossing the border, Rafael Rivera, the young explorer who named Las Vegas and El Mundo founder, Eddie Escobedo were just some of the displays honoring the dead.
One of the altars, created by the non-profit organization Safe Nest, had a “Break the Silence” display for viewers to sign their name to make a pledge against domestic violence.
Las Vegas resident Martha Rosas prepared an altar in honor of her dead father. Rosas’ altar included a guitar, a statue of a dog (who are believed to help lead the spirit of the dead to the spirit world), “pan de muerto” or “bread of the dead” and a replica of La Calavera Catrina, an elegantly dressed skeleton and icon of Día de los Muertos originally created by political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada.
The altars were one of the main attractions of the event. The intricate work put into them by proud artists was admired throughout the night.
As people admired altars through the gardens, the smell of fresh food and incense flooded the air.
Many engaged in a game of La Loteria or “The Lottery,” a game that resembles bingo, but instead uses images such as palm trees, drunken men, the sun and hearts.
Another popular attraction was the photo booth, where many were seen lining up to take free pictures with props like feather boas and hats.
The Día de los Muertos event at the Springs Preserve attracted all kinds of audiences, as could be seen with the line of people waiting to purchase tickets.
Some were dressed in traditional attire, like painted faces, while others were there simply to learn about the holiday, but all of them came together in celebration of local Hispanic culture.