Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer
While most of us are very familiar with the goblins and ghouls of Halloween, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1-2 in Mexico and other places around the world are celebrated as the Day of the Dead or Día de los Muertos. It’s a time to gather with friends and family to remember loved ones who have died and celebrate their lives.
Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars, called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, as well as visiting graves with these gifts.
You don’t have to travel to Mexico to celebrate. Southwest Detroit, one of the most diverse neighborhoods and home to a large concentration of Latino residents, offers a weekend of food, music, shopping and a walking tour of ofrendas honoring loved ones.
From the historic neighborhood of Corktown to Mexicantown, the southwest community is one of the fastest growing parts of Detroit with more than 100 restaurants, dozens of bakeries and 25 markets and specialty food stores.
For this weekend, the streets are filled with a fiesta vibe, contrasted with the traditional white skeleton faces of participants.
Hardy souls can start with a jog, walk or sprint for the 5K-10K Run of the Dead on Saturday with registration at 7 a.m. and the race starting at 9 a.m. Participants are encouraged to wear traditional Día de los Muertos face paint and attire. The race starts at Patton Park Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere St. It’s an opportunity to run through two historic cemeteries — Holy Cross and Woodmere — and see the neighborhoods on foot.
If running isn’t your thing, the 2014 Day of the Dead Walking Tour, hosted by the Southwest Detroit Business Association, will take you to a host of different ofrendasand activities, sponsored by local businesses, churches and nonprofit groups. You can download a brochure with maps and a route at www.southwestdetroit.com. A few to visit include:
• Urban Neighborhood Initiatives All Saints Center, Great Hall, 8300 Longworth St., with an altar dedicated to the families in the community.
• La Terraza Restaurant, 8445 W. Vernor Hwy., with an altar dedicated to Mexican Painter Frida Kahlo.
• Holy Redeemer Church, 1721 Junction St., with an altar dedicated to the parishioners of the church.
• Café con Leche, 4200 W. Vernor Hwy., with an altar dedicated to Joven Combatiente/Young Warrior in commemoration of all the young lives lost to violence throughout the world.
Many stores in the neighborhoods decorate their windows and offer special merchandise. The Mexicantown Mercado has Day of the Dead Little Things Market featuring arts, clothes and household items. If you visit on Sunday, you can participate in the very first ever Día de los Muertos Community Procession, which will start at noon with a procession at 2 p.m. at Clark Park.
In the same neighborhood is one of Detroit’s most unique lodging choices. While I’m sure the Honor and Folly bed and breakfast is already booked for next weekend, this single unit lodging in Corktown is worth considering when you want to get a real feel for the city. It has a few comfortable and well-appointed rooms above a cocktail bar, barbeque joint and a coffee bar — what else do you need to know? Every object in every room is both decorative and functional.
Honor your departed loved ones with a visit to this exciting part of Detroit for the Day of the Dead Celebration.