Little angels to soar through Armory Park at Procession of Little Angels

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Courtesy Lisa Foote and Courtesy Lisa Foote | The Daily Wildcat A young girl dressed as an angel participates in the All Souls Procession on Nov. 2, 2013. in Tucson, Ariz.

The Procession of Little Angels will be taking over Armory Park this Saturday, as will many other events involved with the All Souls Procession throughout Tucson.

The Procession of Little Angels is a family-friendly event that teaches children to acknowledge and honor their loved ones who have passed away. Throughout the day, there will be a series of events and activities, including arts and crafts and live performances.

One of the most common activities is the decoration of cardboard wings. Children will go to the station and put their artistic abilities to work. They will oftentimes paint them, write a message and even paste their loved one’s photographs on it.

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“The event is something that encourages ... integration, creativity [and] imagination and strengthens community,” said Jhon Sanders, the director for Procession of Little Angels. “The wings epitomize those things in some ways.”

Although the children may not necessarily be aware of the deeper meanings of the wings they have created, they can nevertheless easily express their imagination and thoughts through their art and communicate a meaningful message.

Elements of Halloween and other traditional fall festivals combine with unique elements to create this celebration.

“We’ve taken back what Halloween used to be and what it was originally—it used to be [a] harvest festival and an ancestor’s festival where the world of the living and world of the dead are at their highest point of overlap,” Sanders said.

According to Sanders, incorporating some of the most important attributes of Halloween is a fun way to create an opportunity for children to learn more about the importance of their ancestors and others who have passed.

Altars of loved ones who have passed away are also important attributes of the Procession of Little Angels. The interaction with families who have suffered loss is an eye-opening experience for children. It is startling for kids to come to terms with their own mortality, but the procession is an experience that helps them to explore and understand the relationship between life and death.

“It is good for the kids, and it’s good for Maria and her family,” Sanders said. Maria is a woman who displays an alter every year to honor the loss of her daughter.

Sanders explained that the altars create a great opportunity for dialogue with the children, providing opportunities for the meaning of life and death to be better understood.

Families with all kinds of different backgrounds come together to celebrate their loved ones and create a sense of community.

There will be a series of mini performances to be held throughout the day, but once nightfall arrives, the main event kicks in. As a unique attribution to the performance, most of the showcase inspiration comes from children.

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Sharon O’Brien, the artistic director of the Procession of Little Angels, also helps run an organization called Stories That Soar. The organization goes around to schools with a “hungry” magic box that lets students tell stories. The children are able to write whatever they feel. Then, other actors and children reenact some of the stories written by the students.

“Kids love to write for the magic box because they get to be free and write about whatever they want with no restrictions,” O’Brien said.

Often times, children write about death, loss and sadness, which fits perfectly with the theme of the Procession of Little Angels and the message it sends.

Over time, stories that would be fitting are performed for the finale at the procession. It is easy to incorporate the stories into the event because the whole point of the Procession of Little Angels is to view the All Souls Procession from a child’s point of view.

“These stories, which are written by children, explore the themes of loss, death, life and really the celebration of life,” O’Brien said.

The stories that are showcased are performed by students from Tucson Circus Arts.

O’Brien and her team make an effort to make every contribution of the Procession of Little Angels involve children; therefore, the stories that are acted out are usually done by young actors and actresses.

With events that are specifically made for children, it is easy for them to stay engaged while learning about All Souls. A full day of events will leave children with a whole new view on themain procession.

For those who are looking to get involved throughout the planning process of the Procession of Little Angels, there is a series of workshops that anyone can attend. Visitors of the procession are also able to bring photos and remembrances of their fallen children and place the items upon the altar. Although the event is mainly aimed toward children, it has ways for all age groups to engage.


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