North Texas Daily

Remember Me: Day of the Dead Festival

Remember Me: Day of the Dead Festival

Remember Me: Day of the Dead Festival
October 31
11:20 2019

At the Day of the Dead Festival, hosted by the Denton Community Market, vendors line the streets with sugar skull masks, Día de los Muertos paintings, face painting stations and a barber station. People attending the festival are dressed up with the sugar skull painted on their face or in other Halloween costumes. Denise Gonzalez, 28, and Erika Gonzalez, 26, are sisters and Denton residents who attended the festival wearing dresses with the sugar skull painted on their face.

“We’ve been to the festival twice for the past two years and it’s fun,” Denise said. “They have folklorico and I love folklorico. I like the catrina from Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos, embracing Hispanic culture. I don’t see many events that are Hispanic right now, but I love this festival.”

Members of Ballet Folklorico walk beside their float while moving their dresses during the Day of the Dead Lantern Parade on Oct. 26, 2019. Isabel Anes

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, was created during the Aztec Empire and is celebrated Oct. 31-Nov. 2. On these days, people will create ofrendas, also known as offering tables, and on them people will honor either one person or multiple people who have died. They can put the person’s favorite foods, drinks or anything that connects them to their loved ones on the table. Traditionally, these offerings will help their loved ones get to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead and the tradition has transformed into a massive holiday. 

Both Denise and Erika said that because of current events in the United States, they do not feel safe going out in public. Erika said that although they do not feel safe, this festival helps bring people to Hispanic culture and she said it helps bring people together.

“It’s another way we can share and embrace our culture,” Erika said.

As Mexican-Americans, both Erika and Denise said that they feel like they have lost their culture a bit. Denise said that it is hard for her to connect to her Mexican culture as much as the people who were born and raised in Mexico. Although Denise said she feels disconnected from her culture, she said that Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival helps her to reestablish that connection.

“[We are] not being able to go to Mexico this time of year, so this makes us have a little touch of that,” Erika said.

Kristeen Knotts, 21, is a Denton resident. Knotts is not Hispanic, but she said she likes the Day of the Dead Festival because she believes it gives residents a look into the culture of Mexico.

“Day of the Dead is definitely Americanized a little bit, maybe a lot of it, but it does give those who are Hispanic a look into home,” Knotts said. “The fact that we can celebrate it and have everyone come together for it like this shows how [we can] connect. That’s the thing about Denton, we are unique and there are unique people here and it is a time where we can celebrate that.”

Austin resident Geneva Monreal, 69, and Arlington resident Rich Risley, 71, traveled to Denton for the Day of the Dead Festival. Monreal said that they have come to the Day of the Dead Festival for a couple of years now, so whenever this time of year comes around, they meet up in Denton to dress up and attend the festival together.

“For us, because I have a Hispanic background, it’s a day for honoring the dead, even though this event is more about coffin races,” Monreal said. “The underline theme, I think, is you should honor the departed family. I have an ofrenda for my father that is a mobile ofrenda.”

Risley said that he and Monreal come to the Day of the Dead Festival in Denton because he believes it is better than the festivals elsewhere. Monreal said that there are fewer people, so it is not as crowded for them and she said she likes the small-town environment.

“It’s fun, good times, the people are great here and we love it up here,” Risley said.

Cedar Hill resident Esmeralda Lopez, 53, was a vendor at the Day of the Dead Festival. She is the owner of Europa Marketing and Design and she creates handmade crafts that are mainly Catholic associated with Día de los Muertos.

“I applied to be a vendor here years ago but never got accepted for three years and one year I finally got accepted and I [have] loved coming here ever since,” Lopez said.

Lopez said that she believes the Day of the Dead Carnival in Denton is the best around. She said that she has been to other Day of the Dead Festivals in surrounding cities, but she likes Denton’s the most.

“I think the people out here are just very different,” Lopez said. “They are just full of life and they just seem to really enjoy themselves. I live in Cedar Hill, so it takes me an hour to get here, but I love it. Denton’s just different.”

Lopez said that she thinks people confuse Day of the Dead with the Grim Reaper or biker skulls, but she said that Día de los Muertos is a day to remember those who are no longer here on Earth.

“This is all about love and remembering the person for who they were,” Lopez said. “What their favorite foods were [and] the different characteristics about them that kind of define who they were.”

Featured Image: A participant of the Lantern Parade rides in a truck during the parade at the Denton Day of the Dead festival on Oct. 26, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

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Julia Lopez

Julia Lopez

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