By Amelia Gotobed, Buffalo Exchange HQ
One of the largest public ceremonies in North America – the All Souls Procession – is about to take place in Tucson, Arizona, the hometown of Buffalo Exchange. The annual Procession draws on the traditions of Dia de los Muertos and other holidays, bringing Tucson’s diverse community together to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.
How It Began
It all started with one artist, Susan Johnson, creating a performance piece to memorialize her father back in 1990. She found that a creative and celebratory approach to her father’s death helped her grieve. As it turns out, it helps a lot of people. Since then, the Procession has grown to over 150,000 participants and fills the streets of Tucson yearly. It is an all-inclusive event that brings together people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds to mourn the death of loved ones and, more importantly, celebrate their lives.
A Celebration of Life
This is no sad funeral dirge. The All Souls Procession is a truly magnificent ode to life. Some participants craft elaborate floats and moving gizmos, while others just watch as the lively dancing and music of the Procession goes by. At the end, everyone has the chance participate in a ceremonial burning of their hopes, wishes and dreams for those passed. The whole event has an aura of remembrance and gratitude and cultivates a feeling of closeness – both to those passed and to the community as a whole.
While many participants and onlookers paint their faces like a sugar skull (calavera), a traditional look originating with Dia de Los Muertos, the All Souls Procession is not a Day of the Dead event. Dia de Los Muertos is its own holiday with it’s own very specific traditions. Both celebrations are ways to honor the dead, and the All Souls Procession encourages everyone to celebrate how they see fit.
Buffalo Exchange has been a proud supporter of Many Mouths One Stomach (MMOS), the non-profit that organizes the All Souls Procession, since 2013. We sell specially designed tees in all of our stores, donating $5 from each sale to MMOS, and also host special dollar sales at our Tucson location every year to benefit the event.
Here at Buffalo Exchange Headquarters, many of us participate in the Procession. As a group, we walk in honor of Spencer Block, our late co- founder whose spirit lives on through the guidance, wisdom and Buffalo spirit that we all strive to embody.