Nathaly Salgado of Waukegan, center, performs with Ballet Folklorico Tayahua of Waukegan. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
The Park District of Highland Park hosted its first Day of the Dead celebration, with an estimated 250 people attending the Saturday indoors event at West Ridge Center.
The midafternoon program included an ofrenda, dance and musical performances, family bingo with prizes and amenities such as skull face-painting.
Right, Nancy Santiago of Highwood pours homemade hot chocolate prepared for the occasion. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
Honoring the deceased and saying their names helps to, “Keep them in remembrance in our minds,” Raul Bermudez of Bolingbrook said.
Bermudez attended with spouse Karla and their children Andrea, 5, a kindergartner, Leonardo, 6, a first grader and Benjamin, 10, a fifth grader.
“It’s a nice environment for the kids,” Raul Bermudez said.
Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is recognized in Mexico and other locations often on Nov. 1-2 to honor the memory of departed loved ones, while preserving cultural traditions.
From left to right, are event volunteers Claudia Suarez of Highwood, Martha Sanchez of Highland Park, Marcela Bautista from Highland Park and Nancy Santiago of Highwood. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
The Park District of Highland Park’s event was supposed to be held at the Heller Nature Center, but Saturday’s blustery and rainy forecast caused organizers to move a probable new Park District tradition indoors.
The Park District of Highland Park partnered with Township High School District 113, the Highwood Public Library and The Art Center Highland Park, along with other organizations, said Jessica Reyes, Park District manager at the Heller Nature Center.
“The altar looks amazing,” Reyes said, acknowledging volunteers associated with District 113 who built the altar that morning in an hour. “They made it with their heart.
“One of the biggest reasons to having this event was to really help bridge the gap between Highwood and Highland Park, and what better way than to educate,” she said.
Fatima Gomez from Zion performs with Ballet Folklorico Tayahua of Waukegan. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
The ofrenda or altar included homemade and handmade bread, and treats such as favorite brands of soda pop preferred by persons remembered on the altar. Photographs of deceased family members were featured among tokens of remembrance such as a framed drawing of an angel by a young artist named Kevin.
Kevin, 14, the son of Nancy Santiago of Highwood, drew the angel image at age 10. Nancy Santiago was among the parents who helped to build the altar. Santiago provided shareable homemade hot chocolate as part of ofrenda offerings.
A photograph of Santiago’s deceased mother-in-law, Francisca Montano of Guanajuato, Mexico, wearing a blue dress, was also featured.
“This is really important to share,” Santiago said.
Singer Armando Mayorgo of Chicago (holding guitar) performs. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
“It is very important that the Mexican community is shown to the world,” said altar contributor Martha Sanchez of Highland Park.
“This is special for everyone to teach about the culture, traditions, the food,” said ofrenda contributor Claudia Suarez of Highwood.
Luisa Lara of Highland Park serves as community liaison district support staff at Highland Park High School for District 113. Lara collaborated with the Park District and local parents to create the altar.
“For me,” Lara said, “it’s really important, because it means that we recognize diversity and our Latino culture, Mexican culture. It’s important that we share those traditions with the rest of the community.”
From right to left, Nancy Santiago of Highwood and Martha Sanchez of Highland Park participate in a circle dance. Images from Dia de los Muertos in Highland Park on Nov. 5, 2022. (Karie Angell Luc / Pioneer Press)
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