Music and marigolds drew hundreds to Maricopa’s inaugural Día de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — celebration Saturday.
But according to event organizer Kim Myers, Maricopans weren’t the only ones to attend. Their departed loved ones joined in the festivities as well.
During a traditional Día de los Muertos celebration, “your loved ones could actually come and visit and be with you for,” Myers said. “How amazing would that be? It’s all about celebrating with them together, living and dead together.”
Día de los Muertos is a multi-day holiday blending Indigenous Mexican traditions with elements of Catholicism. And like Myers said, many believe loved ones make cameos in the living world during this time — with a little help.
The ofrenda, or altar, is among the most prominent of many colorful elements of the holiday. Covered in marigolds, candles and papel picado, the elaborate display honors and welcomes deceased family members, friends or even pets.
“The symbol behind the marigolds is they can smell the aroma and come home,” Myers said.
Other items placed on the ofrenda make that visit a little more welcoming: food, drinks, sweets and personal trinkets.
On Saturday, the communal ofrenda quickly filled with photos, names, food and drinks from dozens of Maricopa residents honoring their loved ones.
Even without counting the apparitions that may have lurked about, the event attracted 800 people throughout the day, according to Myers.
“It’s been really cool and a little overwhelming,” Myers said during the event.
Her husband and business partner, Ken Myers, said he felt the community embraced the event because of its novelty.
“Nothing has been celebrated like this here because everybody usually does it at home and everybody has their own traditions,” he said. “I hope at the end of the day, everybody’s going to go home and think ‘let’s do this again next year.”