By Anna Starkey
Downtown Dayton welcomed the dead for the third year in a row on Saturday, November 1, 2014. 450 people from across the area gathered at the Convention Center then proceeded to march through the Oregon District to Missing Peace Gallery in the Saint Ann’s Historical District where traditional foods and alters awaited. A wide array of smiling skeletons, vibrant colors, and lively music stood out as El Dia de Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead, was celebrated.
El Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican Holiday typically observed anywhere from November 1 to November 3. Although the event is translated to “The Day of the Dead” and includes skeletons, it is not a parallel to Halloween. Instead, it is a commemoration of life and a remembrance of those who have passed.
In 2012, El Dia de Los Muertos was introduced in the Dayton community. This first year that the celebration took place, only about 200 people were involved. However, the number of attendees and sponsors has grown since then. In 2013, 300 people were present. In 2014, 450 people engaged in the event despite the gloomy weather. Next year, organizers hope to expect at least 1,000 people.
The Day of the Dead and similar cultural celebrations help to bring together the diverse communities of Dayton. People from more than a dozen different countries participated in El Dia de Los Muertos this year. As this event and others alike continue to grow, so does that understanding of different cultures.