Day of the Dead Mazatlán 2018

DSC_0057Mazatlán knows how to put on some of the best parties ever, and I say that with a lot of worldwide experience, not lightly. This year’s Day of the Dead alley parade or callejoneada did not disappoint. Visitors from the interior of the country, elsewhere in Latin America, north of the border and Europe all reported to me thoroughly enjoying themselves and the revelry that is Día de Muertos in our port.

The callejoneada this year was held on November 2nd instead of the traditional 1st, due to the changeover in city government. Thousands attended the annual festivities, which are some of the most exciting and participative in the country. The parade began at 8:30, and there were performances inside the Angela Peralta Theater, as there have been in other recent years.

The alley parade wound through downtown past several traditional altars, and included at least three bands, several dance groups, costumed stilt walkers, and mobile sculptures. As is traditional, families with children were in the majority. It’s my favorite part of this night: seeing multiple generational families in costume enjoying our city and one another!

The callejoneada returned to the Plazuela Machado where several stages were set up with live entertainment till the wee hours. There seemed to be a lower percentage of costumed revelers this year, but the hundreds who dressed upped the game and looked fantastic. Local makeup artists outdid themselves with creativity and color.

New this year was that the parade began at the Plaza República, winding the three blocks to the Machado and then beyond. It gave a bit more breathing room to the official participants before being bombarded with the thousands of spectators who joined in from the Plazuela.

Also new this year were official catrinas that were sponsored, namely, four or so of them sponsored by our beloved Venados baseball team. While they were gorgeous, and this was very cool, it added a commercial element to our traditional alley-winding that I found rather sad.

Sadder still was that for the first time in many years our local Pacífico brewery was apparently not a sponsor. Not only were there no kegs in sight, ruining a joyous local tradition of people handing up their cups, but Indio beer was served in cans, by gruff people lacking the usual joy! Finally, first we lost our traditional donkey cart, which was understandable, but this year we had tuk-tuks! How in the world is that traditional to this part of the world? The beer fiasco was perhaps the most epic fail of the evening, as complaints were heard far and wide over how kodo (cheap) the new administration was; the lines for Pacífico at the Kioskos went nearly around the block, with people choosing to purchase their beer.

Another disappointment was the fact that the organizers have discovered cheap Chinese imports from the likes of Waldo and Sanfri. We were treated to mass-produced skeleton Halloween costumes rather than the gorgeous handmade garments we are so used to, and numerous inflatable plastic decorations and cardboard skulls were to be seen on the stages and posts of the Plazuela, in contrast to the beautiful handmade papier maché artwork from our local art school. I pray this error will not be repeated. Mazatlán’s art scene deserves way better!

The callejoneada for Day of the Dead this year was more Carnaval-like, with dance troops performing routines that lent themselves more appropriate to Fat Tuesday than to Day of the Dead, and one of the wheeled calacas/skeletons lit with lights in a similar manner to a carroza/float in the Carnaval parade. As is usual we did have Carnavál royalty participate. I can vouch that those gorgeous women even look good dead! 😉

My favorite costume was that of my friend Linette: the death of Lady Liberty. While I hope and pray for my birth nation that it is not true, her costume rang too close to home; I appreciated its poignancy.

DSC_9917

Every year we seem to attract more people to this incredible event. It has outgrown the Plaza Machado and especially this year spillover could be seen in Olas Altas and beyond. An important recommendation for next year is to raise the stages higher. With so many people it is nearly impossible for anyone beyond the second row of standing spectators to see what’s going on on stage.

Every restaurant in the Plaza and along the parade route seemed to be sold out. Our group stayed to cenar/eat a late dinner, and when we left about 1:30 am the Plaza was still full of energy. I so enjoy watching how vociferously death sings in the late evening on the Plazuela after the callejoneada.

Day of the Dead remains one of the highlights of Mazatlán’s local cultural scene. It is a jewel in Mexico’s holiday offerings; not the traditional celebrations of Oaxaca or Janitzio, but full of spirit and reflecting our local culture. It is my true hope that some of the missteps this year are due to the fact that the new administration just took over the day before and thus had little time to prepare.

Kudos to the maestros and artists who contributed! Mazatlán is incredibly blessed with your talents and generosity! Day of the Dead in Mazatlán, as Carnavál, is truly a festival of the people!

 

 

Day of the Dead 2016

p1300623Día de los Muertos in Mazatlán is an incredible holiday; one of our favorites. We love creating an altar every year and welcoming our dearly departed back home for a week or so. We enjoy touring the altars around town, and visiting the cemetery to watch families party with their deceased.

Last year I evidently started a new tradition. A couple of girlfriends and I took a makeup class with Johnny Millán and China Sanchez Duarte from the Municipal School of the Arts (post includes full instructions). The following week on the first of November, my friends came over to my house and we painted one another like catrinas, then headed to the parade. Afterwards, we ate dinner and toured the Teatro’s incredible event.

This year, as with most great things in Mazatlán, more girlfriends came over. My niece is in town as is a Japanese friend’s daughter, so they joined in as well. This morning my house looks like a set from The Hangover. Seriously. Champagne and wine glasses, food and bottles everywhere, feathers covering the floor… Click on any photo to enlarge, or to view a slideshow.

We had a whole lot of fun making each other up, trying not to repeat anything from last year. One cool thing was when we stopped by Curiel to have our group photo taken, they had a large framed photo of the three of us from last year posted proudly outside the shop, beckoning for people to come in. We’re models!

p1300613

After this year’s photoshoot, we headed over to the Plazuela, where the festivities were just getting started. My, were we popular! I believe every one of us felt like a movie star. Many of  you dress up, I know, so you know how it feels. It’s still new to us. Locals and tourists alike asked us to take photos with them, it was so much fun. Penny was especially popular. The guy in the photo below asked her for a kiss. 😉 I love how the architecture of Centro Histórico makes callejoneada photos so special.

We had a very nice dinner, probably with many of you sitting nearby. The Plazuela gets so crowded with the thousands of revelers who participate and spectate. It’s a great chance to see loads of friends and visit. Towards the end of the evening we headed over to the theater to tour the “haunted house” they have inside there. It is always such a delight, as the young people from the Municipal School of the Arts recite calaveritas, celebrate the lives of those who have died this year, dance, sing, play music, and act. The wood block prints were also on exhibition, and below you can see photos of a few of those cool works of art. The pan de puerto that was handed out as we exited is particularly delicious.

I hope you all enjoyed last night as much as I did. Thanks to my girlfriends for the good time, to Greg for patiently putting up with us all afternoon and for helping me (or leading the) clean up today!

 

Día de Muertos in the TAP

One of the main catrinas, my friend Lilzy and me

One of the main catrinas, my friend Lilzy and me

Regular readers of this blog know that Day of the Dead in Mazatlán for us closely rivals our port’s ultimate party, Carnavál. And that is saying A LOT! So much so that, this year, I willingly woke up at TWO A.M. (!) in Seattle in order to get the earliest flight back to Mazatlán in order to attend our traditional callejoneada—CULTURA moved the event up one day to avoid the overtime hassles of having people work on Sunday. I got home just in time to welcome two of my girlfriends, Jessica and Lilzy, for a makeup party prior to the evening’s events.

Walking with the two gorgeous main catrinas to escort the dearly departed from their altars around El Centro to the ever-after was wonderful as usual! This year the donkey-drawn beer carts were replaced with motor-driven versions (two donkeys did head up the parade), at least four bandas took part, and there were hundreds of people who made the effort to paint their faces and dress the part of calacas and catrinas.

Below is footage from 2012’s alley parade, or click here to view a photo album of this year’s callejoneada.

Very exciting to me this year was that for the first time ever—I’ve stood in line for hours in previous years, to no avail—we were able to get tickets to the events in the Angela Peralta Theater. I have heard how awesome that event is, but we were never lucky enough to make it to the front of the ticket line. And, yes, many of you ask us why CULTURA doesn’t give us tickets, since we promote them so much. But, they don’t.

Even though I was out of town working, my wonderful husband Greg stood in line and scored us a pair of tickets! Then my good friend Jessica gifted us with two more, so a couple of friends could join us. After standing in line for the tickets, gentlemanly Greg didn’t even go in, but let the women have the opportunity!

The theme this year was Mictlán, honoring pre-hispanic Mexico. Entering the theater the very first act was a tribute to the Aztecs. Going on to the stage we saw two large dance performances: one looking out to the theater (in the seats) and another looking in towards the back of the stage (a wedding). All were gorgeous.

Walking through the hallways and stairways inside the theater was a bit like a spook house, but emerging out onto the upper deck some calacas were playing classical music and singing opera, and below was an aerial dancer wowing the crowd. Throughout the theater were located multiple altars honoring the dearly departed, and multiple dance and visual art installations.

Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Both Carnavál and Day of the Dead show just how strong our local arts community is. Young people practice for weeks to prepare for these big events, and hundreds of people dress up, make up, and bring their families and friends to participate in the events. We are so blessed here with every type of musician, singer and dancer, from classical to banda, as well as to artists of every form of visual and performing art. Many thanks to Cecilia Sanchez Duarte, who devotes the major part of three months to making events in the theater come to life, and to all the makeup artists, costume and set designers who contribute their skills as well! Such a terrific event, and the tickets are free! If, of course, you can get them!

The last two days have been family time, with altars at home to reflect on those we’ve loved and lost, visits to the cemetery, and raising a glass and a song to celebrate their lives. Day of the Dead is, indeed, yet one more of Mexico’s great contributions to our planet. I trust you’ve enjoyed the long weekend and used the opportunity of the holiday to connect with family and friends!

Día de los Muertos, Mazatlán 2014

La Pareja: Together in life and death

La Pareja: Together in life and death

What a welcome home! The callejoneada (alley parade) this year for Day of the Dead in Mazatlán was the best ever, if I dare say so! It was a perfect evening weather-wise: clear skies highlighted by a gorgeous crescent moon, and warm weather that was cool enough for comfort. More people and especially more complete families participated, more dressed up, the beer flowed more freely and was better organized, and the main costumed characters were spectacular!

This year’s event was a tribute to Maestro Rigo Lewis, the long-time creator of our unbelievably gorgeous Carnavál carrozas/floats, so the callejoneada for Day of the Dead had a Carnavalesque air to it this year; it was a beautiful fusion of two local traditions for which Mazatlán has international fame. Kudos and thanks to CULTURA and to the Centro Municipal de Arte staff and students! By the way, I’ve been told we will STILL this year AND next year in the Carnavál parade will have carrozas designed by Maestro Rigo! His legacy lives on, thanks to his hard work and passion.

Click on any of the images below to see it larger or to view a slideshow.

I am sorry to have been so long away from this page, but after seven years it was wonderful to reconnect this summer with family and friends north of the border in a lengthier, more meaningful way. We were able to celebrate my aunt’s 80th birthday, be with my sister-cousin through surgery, and settle Danny into his dorm room and college life. For that I am ever grateful! Plus I had a month of work in Europe, where I met incredible people and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course we missed home, and our friends and family here, terribly.

Saturday night felt like our personal welcome home party, as we hugged loved ones everywhere we went. Funniest, to me, was how often I had to ask, “Who are you?” as the costumes were so excellent that they disguised identities quite effectively!

I can’t imagine not dancing in the parade with the live music, if one is able to do so, as it is just so much fun! There are, however, many people who line the route to watch and enjoy, as well as those who camp out at front-row-seats in bars and restaurants to watch the parade pass by.

Life in the Plaza Machado after the callejoneada was a sight to behold as well. I unfortunately can’t tell you anything about the event inside the theater, as though we waited in line at the Machado for about 90 minutes to get tickets, they ran out long before it was our turn.
We met one woman who was here in town to celebrate her 50th birthday, all the way from Washington DC with two of her best girlfriends. They obviously brought complete Day of the Dead costumes with them for their holiday! We saw store-bought costumes, handmade costumes, traditional and modern versions, and fortunately there were many of us who were still alive and un-costumed to enjoy the rest!
My absolute favorite moment of the evening, and there were so many awesome ones to choose from, was as the callejoneada entered the plazuela. Just in front of the theater, a group of young men started cheering loudly, dancing and jumping around. “Güero! “Güero!” they were shouting. As I turned around to see what all the happy commotion was about, I realized they were cheering on my partner, Greg. He was dancing happily, having been soaked with beer head to toe earlier in the evening.
31.DSC_0378Guero!
CULTURA TV is going to stream it’s video of the callejoneada this Wednesday, November 5, at 5:00 pm local time. Be sure to check it out! There are many more aspects of Day of the Dead in Mazatlán; the callenjoneada is just one activity. This blog post can give you a broader idea for your trip. I know my favorites include making an altar to remember my departed family members and friends, as well as remembering them in Mass each year. We hope you’ll join us so we can dance with you all next year!