DHS students enjoy Day of the Dead celebration in southwest Detroit

Photo courtesy of Michael Odom
In addition to touring community altars (ofrendas) created to honored the deceased, students enjoyed an arts and crafts workshop where the created sugar skulls and learn about Mexican folklore from members of Community of Latino Artists Visionaries and Educators.

DEARBORN — Students studying Spanish at Dearborn High School joined hundreds of students from across metropolitan Detroit Nov. 2 for a unique Latino cultural celebration honoring the dead.

Hosted by the Southwest Detroit Business Association, Day of the Dead included tours of community altars (ofrendas) created to remember loved ones, an artist workshop featuring traditional decorations, and visits to local shops and authentic Mexican restaurants located in southwest Detroit

“This event is culture packed,” DHS Spanish teacher Ann Sbeity said. “Oftentimes we don’t have the opportunity or time to bring culture into the classroom. That’s what this day is all about and the kids have been looking forward to it for months.”

Day of the Dead is commonly celebrated throughout the United States and Latin America and coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Its focus is to gather family and friends to remember and pray for those who have passed.

Traditions include building private altars using photos, candles, sugar skulls, marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased.

“Day of the Dead is such a special time for Latinos to reflect and celebrate our family members who are no longer with us,” said Myrna Segura, SDBA director of business development. “Southwest Detroit is a wonderful place to introduce people of all ages to the Latino culture are we are very excited to once again host this exciting cultural experience.”

The first stop of the tour brought students to the historic Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church, one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the United States that was founded in 1701.

A brief presentation by a local parishioner highlighted the origins of Day of the Dead, which was practiced by the indigenous people of Mexico for thousands of years. Other stops included local businesses featuring public altars.

Members of Community of Latino Artists Visionaries and Educators, a volunteer organization based in southwest Detroit that was created to preserve the arts and culture of the Latino community, later shared traditional folklore and helped students create sugar skulls and skeleton puppets.

“Many of our kids have never even been to Mexicantown in southwest Detroit,” Sbeity said. “Everyone truly enjoyed the day, which was filled with culture, food, arts and traditions.”

Established in 1957, the SDBA works with local businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, customers and neighbors to develop a place where more people choose to live work and play.

For more information about SDBA, go to www.southwestdetroit.com or call 313-842-0986.