The 33rd All Souls Procession and Ceremony was held this Sunday, Nov. 6, in Downtown Tucson.
According to the All Souls Procession Weekend website, the procession was started in 1990 by Susan Johnson, a local artist. She was, “grieving the passing of her father, and as an artist, she found solace in a creative, celebratory approach to memorializing him.” Since then, a culmination of art forms, ethnic groups and cultures have grown the procession into what it is today.
Although, the essence of the procession is still the same: to honor our lost loved ones and celebrate life.
Now, over 150,000 participants gather on the streets of downtown Tucson for the two-mile long procession.
Before the procession, people gathered on Grande Avenue, where the street was blocked off from usual traffic. Here, there were different activities such as face painting, food trucks and the offering of various tributes to passed loved ones.
Cassie Williams, her mother Vicki Grant and sister-in-law Vivian Grant have been coming to the procession for the last five years, according to Williams. Each time, they carry the shell of an umbrella with hanging photos of their passed loved ones to honor them.
“Some years we don't have to add at all, but this year my mom and my aunt had to add quite a few people that they loved,” Williams said in reference to their umbrella ofrenda.
“I'm here to support my mom and my aunt,” Williams said. “I walk for everyone who's grieving this year. I'm not personally feeling lots of grief this year, but I feel love for the people that are.”
Melissa Wolf, a first timer at the All Souls Procession moved to Tucson just six months ago.
“I was always captivated by the Day of the Dead,” Wolf said. “But, I never really understood it until I watched 'Coco.' I wanted to dress up, and now I have a picture of my mom and nephew who've passed. I know that I am honoring them by being here and that just makes it extra special.”
Wolf was joined by Arlene Biaza, who also had never been to the procession in Tucson. Biaza said she had been to the procession in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and she was excited to see how Tucson’s event was different.
“For me, I'm here for my grandparents,” Biaza said. “It's like a celebration for them.”
Thousands of people with stories like Wolf, Williams and Biaza gathered in the street to honor their loved ones with different tributes like signs, umbrellas, ofrendas on wheels and more.
After the duration of the procession, the ceremony ends with the burning of, “The Urn.” The Urn is dedicated to those who have passed and is filled with offerings and wishes from the public.
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