By Stephanie Lew, Buffalo Exchange Tucson
Every fall, the spirit of Tucson gathers for an organic experience. The All Souls Procession (November 9, 2014) invites everyone to join in celebration of loved ones past including animals and celebrities. In 1990, local Tucson artist Susan Johnson created a ritualistic performance in memory of her late father. Many artists were so touched by her performance that they joined together to continue the Procession. Now over 100,000 participants come together in the downtown area to hold signs and create artistic floats in honor of those lost. Throughout the procession, participants’ and onlookers’ faces are painted with sugar skull designs channeling the true spirit of Dia de los Muertos. Makeshift bands join together and march throughout the Procession. Participants bring drums and tambourines to play along wherever possible. Rather than a sense of sadness you might find at a funeral procession, this gathering has an aura of remembrance, gratitude and most of all, a celebration of life and lives past.
Prayers, wishes, offerings, and hopes for the souls of those no longer with us are collected into an urn that is burned as the Procession’s final action. Fire dancers and artistic performers gather for a display of honor leading up to the release of the urn. Everyone comes together in unison and the spirit of the community is reborn. Buffalo Exchange employees walk in celebration and memory of our late co-founder, Spencer Block. He lives on through his guidance and wisdom that leads one step at a time into the future.
There are those among us
Who show us through their being
That we have the possibility of goodness
– Spencer Block