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Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023

Hispanic Event Debuts Festival


Day of the Dead pays respect to the dearly departed.

Day of the Dead’s lively celebration

Its name does not bring to mind images of a celebration.

But “Day of the Dead” is indeed a day to celebrate lost loved ones.

The Hispanic Heritage Association of Northwest Louisiana (HHANWLA) will host its first “Day of the Dead” festival, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, from noon to 10 p.m. at Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport. Admission is free, while some contests will require an entry fee.

A Hispanic tradition, the Day of the Dead is filled with activities, music and food, which pay respects to the deceased. A family-friendly event, there will be arts and crafts in which children can take part, an Aztec dance performance, folklore dance performances, arts and crafts vendors, and live music from Los Rancheritos and Sol De La Cumbia.

“It’s one of the events the HHANWLA wanted to bring to the community to showcase the Hispanic culture, and to provide another event in Shreveport that is very unique and different from the typical events we have here,” said Chris Giordano, project director for the HHANWLA.

In addition to all of the above, there will be two contests.

“An individual, family, organization or company can enter to build an altar,” Giordano said. “Traditionally on Day of the Dead, people will build altars which are representative of deceased ancestors, to celebrate their afterlife. These altars typically consist of flowers, pictures, candles and items the deceased enjoyed.”

The Catrinas contest will have two divisions – one for children ages 2 through 14 and one for adults ages 15 and older. “Catrinas are skeleton figures and painted faces that are part of Day of the Dead traditions primarily in Mexico, but also in some other Latin American countries,” Giordano explained.

Each contest will pay cash prizes (1st place: $500, 2nd place: $250, third place: $150).

There will also be a car show from 1-6 p.m. “The Hispanic Heritage Association is devoted to the progression and development of Hispanics in this region,” Giordano said. “That includes culture, education, health, sports and business, through events and partnerships with other associations. One of our goals is to promote the progression of Hispanics, but also to build bridges between the Hispanic community and the non-Hispanic community.”

Our area has become home to many Hispanics.

Enjoy the Aztec dance performance.

“The Hispanic population of Shreveport-Bossier and northwest Louisiana is growing, and we’re seeing more and more Hispanics locating to this area, and from more and more countries,” Giordano said. “A lot of people from Central and South America are also immigrating here. This event is to not only provide something for the Hispanic community here, but to educate the non-Hispanic community on some of the culture and traditions of the Hispanic community.”

In Spanish, the Day of the Dead is known as “Dia de los Muertos.” “It is a cultural phenomenon deeply rooted in Mexican and Latin American heritage,” Giordano said. “Combining indigenous Mesoamerican customs with Catholic influences, this festival will offer a unique perspective on the cycle of life and death. Far from being a sober occasion, it’s a joyous and colorful celebration that honors departed loved ones, while embracing the vitality of life.”

But at the heart of the Day of the Dead festival is tradition.

“It is an exuberant blend of music, dance, art and culinary delights,” Giordano said. “Visitors will be treated to a feast for the senses, as they immerse themselves in the lively rhythms of traditional music and the intricate movements of dance performances. Colorful costumes and intricately designed altars, adorned with marigolds, candles and photographs will create a visual spectacle that captures the essence of the celebration.”

To learn more about the Day of the Dead festival, visit hhanwla.org.


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