Carbondale honors the Day of the Dead |

Carbondale honors the Day of the Dead

Although Mexico celebrated the Day of the Dead on Wednesday, Carbondale’s annual event will follow the First Friday art walk, which begins at 5 p.m. Nov. 4.

At 6:30, the gathering begins at the Thunder River for a performance by students from Ross Montessori as well as Community Offering and the Invocation of the Dead.

At 7, the open procession heads to the Third Street Center for altar viewings, traditional foods, hot chocolate, face painting, songs from Waldorf School students, and music by La Tricolor and Mount Horeb Band.

The altars include contributions by Crystal River Elementary School, Carbondale Community School and Roaring Fork High School as well as pieces in memory of locals like Pat Menke and Chuck Harris.

One of the most elaborate displays is put together by the parent mentor program at the Valley Settlement Project. It’s a perfect fit for the organization, which also happens to have its office in the Round Room, which hosts the altars.

“I think our community is becoming more sharing of cultures, and that’s part of what an event like this can do,” said executive director Jon Fox-Rubin.

Now in its fifth year, Valley Settlement is transitioning from a part of the Manaus Fund to its own nonprofit.

Its goal, according to project director Morgan Jacober, is to “get kids ready and confident to be successful and have their parents believe in themselves and be their child’s first teacher.”

That takes several forms, with the “Busesito” mobile preschool program being one of the most visible. It’s flagship element, however, is probably the parent mentor program.

Currently, there are upwards of 50 local parents in seven area public schools, with over 3,000 hours of time donated at Glenwood Springs Elementary alone.

They volunteer for two or three hours a few times a week, offering help similar to a paraprofessional.

“It gets moms and dads out of their houses and into the schools, where they become leaders and ambassadors,” Jacober explained. “They’re becoming role models for their own children. That confidence and engagement trickles down.”

It’s also a launching point for other involvement, and the altar is a prime example.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to work together and share experiences and expression in a way that the community will see,” she added. “A lot of time and effort and love and honor is put into the work, which I think makes it very special.”

It’s also a chance for the mentors to learn about each other. Yareli Enriquez comes from Chihuahua, where altars aren’t part of the Dia de los Muertos celebration. The focus is on the cemeteries, where families spend the day.

“We clean up the tombs and put out flowers,” she explained. “It’s to remember those who have passed away.”

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