In Tucson, Remembrance Lives On

Tucson Writer Day of the Dead PhotographTonight, in Tucson, be prepared for oddly-adorned participants who walk in reverence and celebration.It’s a special night in Tucson, our All Souls Procession. The Procession whispers of ancient times and celebrates a cycle of life and death in a Fall ritual that links spirituality, art and spectacle.

The All Souls Procession is 21-plus years of annual remembrance. It began as a personal expression of grief for artist Susan Kay Johnson to honor her father’s passing. I often wonder what Susan feels about the evolution of her expression of remembrance.

Tonight’s Procession is the centerpiece of joyful community gathering, a tradition that nourishes the spirit of the living while creatively remembering the dead. There are 20,000-plus involved, including waves of angels, skeletons with carts or floats awash in glow lights, candles and paper lanterns. A Grande Finale at the Mercado San Agustin culminates in a ritual performance by Flam Chen and a symbolic fiery cleansing with a huge Urn.

Tucson Writer Day of the Dead PhotoParticularly in light of the terrible chaos and death wrought by Hurricane Sandy…because of the terrible division we see in this country wrought by extremist politics – tonight’s procession carries great meaning. I hope the tradition continues, and I’ve contributed dollars as I can to the non-profit responsible. The Red Cross needs our dollars, too, as does non-partisan believers like Gabby Giffords/Captain Mark Kelly’s PAC.

Remember tonight, and vote on Tuesday.

More on my other Tucson Cowgirl blog here.

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