Dia de los Muertos celebration returns to Carbondale | PostIndependent.com

Dia de los Muertos celebration returns to Carbondale

Will Grandbois
Puppets for Friday's Guingol Day of the Dead performance.
Provided |


Who: CCAH, Valley Settlement Project and Thunder River Theatre

What: Dia de los Muertos

When: 5:30 p.m. on Friday

Where: Begins at the Third Street Center, moves to the Launchpad at 6:30 p.m.

How much: Free

Día de los Muertos isn’t Halloween.

You won’t encounter bobbing for apples or a haunted pumpkin patch at Carbondale’s 11th annual celebration of the Day of the Dead on Friday. Instead, it begins with a Folklorico dance performance by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and an altar exhibition at the Third Street Center at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the whole event makes a procession to the Launchpad for tamales, hot chocolate, a puppet show and “que viva” honoring those who departed in the last year.

The free, bilingual event is sponsored by the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, Valley Settlement Project and Thunder River Theatre, and is intended to honor the traditional spirit of the holiday as well as draw from the town’s creative diversity.

“It’s really a fun, integrated experience,” CCAH director Amy Kimberly said.

New this year is the puppet show presented by local Latino artist group El Colectivo.

“Each of us has a background in different things,” member Alberto Mendoza said. “Our idea was to complete something that could be enriched by everything each of us brought.”

Sylvia Gutierrez happened to have experience in theater, including the witty French style of puppetry known as Guignol.

“She had been trying to do something with her stuff for a long while,” Mendoza said. “We all decided that that should be the first project we collaborate in.”

Written especially for Día de los Muertos by playwright Karmina Fanjul, it will be performed in both English and Spanish.

“We really like what she came up with,” Mendoza said. “I think it’s going to be a nice climax to the event. Just like the Day of the Dead, it’s colorful and has some joy to it, but also this heaviness because in the end it’s death we’re talking about — how to perceive it and how to cope with it.”

The rising popularity of Día de los Muertos in the United States has led to some misconceptions about the Mexican holiday. A blend of pre-Spanish and Roman Catholic traditions, the event honors friends and family who have passed on.

“It’s personal; it’s not just something people do for fun,” Mendoza said. “It’s something that people feel. We all have people that we love that have died.”

There are also festive elements. The community converges on the cemetery to pay their respects in an alluring blend of Halloween and Memorial Day.

“Out of all the holidays, Mexican or otherwise, this is one that we all connect with the most,” Mendoza said. “We’re very happy to do something with it.”

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