Milwaukee Day of the Dead celebrations

Preparations are underway across Milwaukee to reflect on those who are no longer with us. Dia De Los Muertos (English, Day of the Dead) falls on Monday, Nov. 1 and Tuesday, Nov. 2. 

The belief is during this time the dead are given permission to visit their relatives and friends on Earth. Creating an offering is at the core of celebrations.

"One of the beautiful elements to Dia De Los Muertos is that sense of humor there’s a different relationship with death in Latin America than there is in the United States," explained Managing Artistic Director Jacobo Lovo. "We have an understanding that death is inevitable."

Jacobo Lovo

Jacobo Lovo

Day of the Dead "Ofrendas" (thru Nov. 12)

Latino Arts Inc. on Milwaukee’s south side has unveiled their exhibit, Day of the Dead "Ofrendas." 

A typical offering has photos of loved ones displayed along with their favorite food, drinks, or personal items. Lovo said the pandemic is evident in many of this year’s displays.

"The community needs to be able to celebrate their loved ones that have been taken from them over the last few years," Lovo said.

Lovo said anyone can take part in the tradition so long as they take the time to understand the origins.

"As long as they are putting the effort to connect with its true meaning -- which is a celebration of life. It’s not an aesthetic," Lovo said.

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Community Altar (thru Nov. 2)

A short drive away is Flores Hall (2997 S. 20th Street, Milwaukee - closed Saturday & Sunday) – where the Wisconsin Hispanic scholarship foundation put together the largest altar in the state of Wisconsin.

"You know really this is a piece of art," Executive Director Teresa Mercado. "The community is welcome to come. We’re open here 9-6 every day. We’ll be open until November 2nd."

Teresa Mercado

Teresa Mercado

Mercado said visitors are welcome to bring a photograph of their loved one to the community altar.

"This is a moment to share our culture and I invite everyone to share in the tradition," Mercado said.

Mercado said photos brought by visitors will be on display throughout the Day of the Dead – and will be available for pick up the following week.   

"You can come and we have families that stay here just looking, everyone praying or just trying to learn trying to go through every single detail of the altar," Mercado said.

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Decorating of graves (Oct. 30)

Another tradition celebrated during this time of year is decorating the graves of loved ones. Forest Home Cemetery is hosting a family-friendly Dia de Los Muertos 5K Run/Walk. The festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

"Grieving is always seen as this thing we shouldn’t do out loud but I think it’s something we can do in conjunction with the celebration," explained Katie Avila Loughmiller. 

Katie Avila Loughmiller

Katie Avila Loughmiller

Avila Loughmiller is the co-founder of the artistic group L.U.N.A. (Latinas Unidas En Las Artes).

"(Working) towards healing and celebrate everybody who is still here but also know our loved ones we lost are still with us," Avila Loughmiller said.

The group L.U.N.A is putting together one-of-a-kind altars that will be displayed inside the cemetery chapel. Avila Loughmiller said the altars are being designed by artists, Whitney Salgado and Sabrina Lombardo. They are thankful for the help they are receiving from 414loral and sorority group volunteers from the OG chapter of sigma lambda Gamma.


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