Connect with the spirits at Valley 'Dia de los Muertos' events - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Connect with the spirits at Valley 'Dia de los Muertos' events

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:22 pm

Her name is La Calavera Catrina — Katrina, for short — and she’s one stylish dame, even if she doesn’t look quite as, um, alive as she used to.

A figure associated with Día de los Muertos, she’ll be out in force Nov. 5 in Chandler, when arts collective Xico hosts its Día de los Muertos: A Celebration of Life Festival. For the first time, the 32-year-old event — a local observance of the festive Mexican and Latin American custom of honoring and celebrating deceased loved ones — will feature a “La Katrina” costume contest. There’s also a competition for the best “El Katrin” costume; he’s Katrina’s dapper male counterpart.

“La Katrina is a figure from Mexican culture who was created by an artist named José Guadalupe Posada. She’s an elegant lady, and he’s the dandy. But they’re skeletons. So, most people paint their faces or wear masks,” says Xico’s Hannah Humphrey.

La Katrina wears long skirts, shawls, hats, parasols, feather boas and flowers. El Katrin is suave and debonair, a man who appreciates bling and a big sombrero.

The celebration — replete with both reverence and revelry — is one of several Día de los Muertos observances in the Valley. Here’s where you can partake of this colorful tradition.

Día de Los Muertos Festival: Spirits Connect

What: A large community altar designed by artist Veronica Ochoa is the centerpiece of this annual celebration with live music and roaming stilt walkers. There’s also a mercado of merchandise, jewelry, arts and crafts, as well as children’s activities, a display of mini altars and food vendors. You’re invited to leave a tribute to your loved ones at the large altar. A mariachi band will lead a procession to it at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, giving all a chance to wrap up the festival by paying final respects.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.

Cost: Free

Information: (480) 644-6500 or

Día de los Muertos

What: Close to a dozen “ofrendas,” or offerings, by local artists are on display during the garden’s Day of the Dead festivities, which include a mercado of merchandise and food, and the “Masters of Oaxaca” — three artists visiting from Mexico who demonstrate their work for visitors. Things culminate with La Procesión — a tradition hearkening to the days when indigenous people would march together to ancestral burial sites. DBG’s procession features colorfully costumed and masked characters, plenty of pageantry, and a blend of music and dance.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. La Procesión is at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix

Cost: Entrance is included with paid garden admission of $8-$18 per person.

Information: (480) 941-1225 or

Día de los Muertos: A Celebration of Life Festival

What: Xico’s 32nd annual homage to the holiday features traditional music and dance by local performers, storytelling from the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute, children’s activities, folk arts and crafts, a community altar for people to leave mementos, food vendors and the La Katrina/El Katrin costume contest. A 5:15 p.m. candlelight procession honors the departed.

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 5

Where: Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 S. Arizona Ave., Chandler

Cost: Free

Information: (480) 833-5875 or

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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