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From altars to festivals, here’s how North Texans can celebrate Día de los Muertos

Participants of the event are decked in traditional folkloric clothing and headdresses to honor the Day of the Dead in downtown Dallas, on Sun., Nov. 1, 2020.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
Participants of the event are decked in traditional folkloric clothing and headdresses to honor the Day of the Dead in downtown Dallas, on Sun., Nov. 1, 2020.

The Day of the Dead holiday is a time to reflect, celebrate and honor deceased loved ones. North Texas is commemorating this tradition with a variety of events.

At the North Oak Cliff Branch Library stands a small ofrenda, an offering altar set up with photos and sculptures of businesses that have shut down during the pandemic in Dallas’ neighborhood of Oak Cliff.

It offers residents a place to honor the “huge cultural loss of spaces in our community,” Oak Cliff resident Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz said. She created the altar.

Oak Cliff businesses ofrenda - Day of the Dead
Alejandra Martinez
/
KERA
"I grew up in Oak Cliff," said Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz. "I was thinking of the places that are significant to us...a few of them have been lost." To the left of the altar is a wooden-building-cut-out that represents an Oak Cliff business that closed during the pandemic.

Día de los Muertos, which will take place Nov. 1 and 2, is a tradition that has been celebrated for thousands of years and traces back to indigenous tribes in Mexico. Altars are a huge part of the celebration.

“This altar is unique in that it centers spaces, so it offers a land acknowledgment saying this is stolen land,” Ferrell-Ortiz said.

One of the businesses highlighted is El Fenix Mexican Restaurant, which was located on Colorado Boulevard in Oak Cliff. After 72 years, it was demolished in the summer of 2020 to build eight-story apartments. Another is El Corazon de Tejas, which closed its doors in 2017, but Ferrell-Ortiz said the pandemic reminded her of how a restaurant's demolition still stings years later.

Dallas Mexican American Historical League
Alejandra Martinez
/
KERA
Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz is the vice president of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League, an organization dedicated to preserving and recording Mexican American history in Dallas from the early 1800s to the present day.

Dispersed throughout Ferrell-Ortiz’s ofrenda are note cards that explain the significance of each caricature or decoration. One reads: What do you do when your favorite restaurant closes?

The ofrenda is also a commentary on the gentrification of the neighborhood and highlights the importance of educating residents on zoning policies in the city.

“Oak Cliff is currently being developed and the community should be at the center of that and historical preservation,” Ferrell-Ortiz said.

On this Day of the Dead, Ferrell-Ortiz said she will remember the closed businesses “that are significant to us; to people of color and to our history.”

Altars, traditional folkloric clothing and live performances will highlight local Day of the Dead.

Here’s where you can celebrate the holiday:

Dallas Día de los Muertos parade
Date: Oct. 30
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Location: Dallas City Hall
Address: 1500 Marilla Dallas, TX 75201

Latino Cultural Center Dia de los Muertos Festival
Date: Oct. 30
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Latino Cultural Center
Address: 2600 Live Oak St, Dallas, TX 75204

Day Of The Dead Street Party
Date: Oct. 30
Time: 8:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Location: Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Address: 3220 Botanic Garden Boulevard, Fort Worth, TX 76107

a de los Muertos at Legacy Hall
Date: Oct. 31
Time: 1:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Legacy Hall
Address: Windrose Ave., Plano, TX 75024

Día de Los Muertos Oak Cliff
Date: Oct. 30
Time: 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Oak Cliff Cultural Center
Address: 508 W 7th St, Dallas, TX 75208

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.